It's really started heating up in NYC and I've been getting the itch to BBQ. Sadly, I'm not allowed to hang a BBQ out my 7th floor window, so I have to make due with my broiler. It's not quite the same as a charcoal grill, but you can get results close to that of a gas grill with a bit of practice.
The key is to preheat a broiler pan or some kind of grill rack in the broiler so it gets nice and hot. Then you get some searing action on one side, while the other is exposed to the direct heat. You'll want to experiment with times and positions to adjust for your particular oven, but it's not rocket science.
When grilling it's important to have a good basting brush. You want something that's heat resistant and has a reasonably long handle so you don't singe the hairs off your hand. These silicon ones do a pretty good job and have the added benefit of being able to go in the dishwasher for easy cleanup. The one drawback is that they don't hold a ton of your basting liquid so you may need to dip more frequently that a regular brush, but I find the benefits outweigh this minor inconvenience.
I like using a simple Mediterranean marinade, but there are a lot of possible spices you can add. The thing that really makes this marinade for me is the pomegranate molasses. It's made by reducing pomegranate juice until it has the consistency of molasses. I found a bottle at Wholefoods, but you should be able to find it in the "ethnic" aisle of a large supermarket, or at Middle Eastern grocery stores.
This marinade is nice and refreshing and does a great job of covering up that odor that lamb has. The pomegranate molasses adds a puckering tartness, honey-like sweetness and great floral aroma that works really well with lamb.
I like to serve these kebabs over a salad made with wheat berries and quinoa, but they're great over saffron rice or tabbouleh.
For lamb kebabs
For veggie kebabs
- Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, oregano, pomegranate molasses and pepper together. Add the lamb cubes, mixing with your hand to make sure each piece is well coated. Press down on the meat until the pieces are covered in marinade, then refrigerate overnight.
- If you are using a BBQ, soak bamboo skewers in water overnight (to prevent them from burning).
- To assemble the lamb kebabs, just spear each piece of meat down the middle with the skewer. Try to put roughly the same size pieces of meat on a single skewer so they cook evenly (e.g. you might have 1 skewer with all large pieces and 1 with all small pieces).
- To assemble the veggie kebabs, just skewer the veggies, having the skin side of the bell peppers facing the same way (you want this side to face your heat source). Take a pastry brush and dip it in some olive oil and thoroughly coat 1 side of the veggies (the side you're going to have facing the heat source). Sprinkle with salt and pepper (which should stick to the olive oil).
- To grill in a broiler, turn the broiler on high with the shelf 1 level below the top position (if using an electric oven, put the shelf in the top position). Put the grill pan you're going to use in the broiler to preheat for a few minutes. Depending on how your broiler is configured, place the meat kebabs closest to the heating element, and the veggie kebabs where ever else they'll fit (with the skin side of the peppers facing up).
- Broil the meat until it's nice and brown them flip and cook a little longer. If you have uneven sized pieces on your skewers, you'll want to remove the small ones first so they don't overcook. I like to cook my lamb medium rare, but cook it however long you like. You can check the meat by separating two pieces on the skewer and checking in between. If in doubt, err on the side of under done, you can always put it back if you want it cooked more, but you can't uncook it if it's over done.