When most people think about firing up the grill or stoking a campfire to cook an outdoor meal, lamb isn’t the first meat that comes to mind. Isn’t lamb the type of meat that should be served on a fancy platter with mint jelly on the side, not seared over a campfire and eaten with your hands?
Personally, we’ve never liked mint jelly or those silly, frilly white paper caps that chefs stick on lamb legs. We like our lamb seared over an open flame in tender bite-sized morsels that have been richly seasoned and tenderized in a marinade. We slide the meat right off the skewer and pop it in our mouth – it may not be fancy, but it sure is good.
Lamb is an ideal meat to skewer and cook over an open flame because it doesn’t take long to cook. If you’re wondering whether or not it’s done, err on the side of taking it off too soon; you want lamb to be fairly rare, otherwise it will be tough and chewy. If you cut the lamb into 1-inch squares it only needs 6-8 minutes of cooking time. Thread some skewers (or a stick that you’ve whittled) with veggies like onions, peppers or zucchini and they’ll be done at the same time and can be served on the side.
A good marinade is the key to tender lamb and it also adds extra flavor. The lamb soaks up our blend of allspice, cumin, onions, parsley and garlic like a sponge, making each piece of meat a succulent treat.
Ideally, let the meat marinate between 6-8 hours. If you’re heading out into the wild for a camping trip, store the meat in a sealed plastic bag with the marinade (in a cooler or near an ice pack) and the meat will be perfectly seasoned by the time you get your fire going that night or the next day.
Theses kabobs are spiced but not spicy – if you want some heat, add diced hot pepper or red pepper flakes to the marinade. Either way, a cool minty dipping sauce made from whole fat Greek yogurt and fresh mint is a refreshing summer dip to serve on the side.
1 pound lamb loin or leg, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
Half dozen or so parsley sprigs
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine the meat with remaining ingredients in a sealed plastic bag or a bowl and refrigerate at least 6-8 hours.
Slide the meat onto skewers and grill over medium high heat 6 – 8 minutes for medium rare.
Minty Yogurt Dip
1 cup full fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
A few sprigs of parsley
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt to taste
In a food processor, blend all ingredients. You can also finely chop the mint and parsley by hand and stir it into the yogurt by hand.
Optional additions: stir in chopped cucumber or fresh garlic.