Lamb Kabobs, Şiş Kebap, Shaslik, or Souvlaki– or Meat on a Skewer
Lamb Kabobs are popular and have a long history in many countries. The plump chunks of marinated meat, grilled on a stick usually with onions and peppers are delicious, visually appealing and fun to eat. They can be savored on their own, with assorted salads, breads, pastas, as an appetizer or main course. And although many kinds of meats are grilled and served as kabobs, lamb and goat meat are the most popular choices. Preparation and cooking time is relatively quick and yet the results provide unique off-the-grill flavors enhanced by the choice of a variety of marinades.
Meat for kabobs is best cut from the lamb or goat leg. Shepherd Song’s kabobs are only cut from the center leg. Meat cubes from the shoulder or sirloin (often suggested as options) has connective tissue that even with marinating is likely to result in tough, inconsistent areas. If these cuts are used marinate overnight. Alternating vegetables and meat on skewers will allow the flavors to melt together. Some may cook the vegetables and meat separately but that (in our opinion) defeats the purpose and special taste of meat and colorful vegetables on a stick.
Leg kabobs or 1-2 lb lamb or goat leg meat cut into 1 ¼-1 ½ inch cubes
1-2 medium onions, cut into quarters
1 green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces.
1 cup medium mushroom tops
6-8 plum tomatoes cut in half
Other vegetable options: zucchini, red or yellow pepper, red onion, fresh herb leaves
Here’s a simple marinade. Marinades usually include oils, acids and herbs or spices. Oils, such as olive oil, help transfer flavors. Acids, such as lemon juice or wines, help break down connective tissue making the meat tenderer.
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ lemon juice
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
Ground black pepper
- Cut into 1 ¼ -1 ½ inch cubes from the lamb and/or goat leg. Try to keep the pieces consistent so they will cook at approximately the same time. Use young goat meat for best results or marinate the goat pieces twice as long. Extra cubes can be frozen for next time.
- In a large sealable plastic bag, combine the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and black pepper.
- If choosing to marinate in a covered bowl increase liquid proportions so meat is covered.
- Mix well and add the lamb and/or goat meat cubes.
- Marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Turn the meat occasionally.
- Soak wooden skewers a couple hours before using so they do not burn. A kabob basket is also commonly used. The meat and vegetables are likely to roll on metal skewers but this can be prevented by using two.
- When ready to grill allow meat to reach approximate room temperature while preparing the vegetables.
- Alternate meat cubes and vegetables on the skewers, as this will enhance the flavors. Fresh herb leaves can also be added. Leave more space between vegetables and larger cubes of meat to even cooking time.
- Grill over medium-hot coals, charcoal or on a gas grill for approximately 5 minutes per side. Place skewers directly over the heat. Turn them frequently. Do not burn. Vegetables should be crispy on the outside and tender.
- Remove to serving plate. Cover lightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. The meat and vegetables will continue to cook during the rest period.
A Turkish version, Şiş kebap, is served with flat bread, transparently sliced onions, and a touch of parsley and ground sumac seasoning.