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Barbecue Secrets

Recipe of the Week - A Tribute to the Brits - lamb kebabs and minty potato hobo pack

Aug 4, 2012

Zesty Lamb Kebabs

Makes 4 main course servings, and 6–8 appetizer servings

These easy, delicious kebabs make a great party appetizer or a tasty main course. The secret to this dish is to not overcook the lamb, which becomes tough and rubbery if it’s left on the grill too long. Serve it either as an appetizer or as a main course on a bed of rice.

8 long metal skewers or
12 7-inch | 18 cm bamboo skewers, soaked for at least 1 hour
To marinate the lamb:
1 2 lb | 1 kg leg of lamb
1/4 cup | 50 mL chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup | 50 mL chopped fresh basil
1 tsp | 5 mL dried mint
1 tsp | 5 mL dried basil
1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground coriander seed
pinch cayenne
1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp | 5 mL Dijon mustard
zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped

For the kebabs:
1 purple onion, cut into bite-sized
16 cherry tomatoes
kosher salt to taste
olive oil, for drizzling
1 lemon (the same one you zested),
cut in half for squeezing

Cut the lamb into 11/2-inch | 4 cm chunks. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix them thoroughly with the lamb. Place the lamb in a resealable plastic bag or a nonreactive bowl, refrigerate it, and
marinate it for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.
            Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Thread the lamb chunks on the metal or bamboo skewers, alternating them with the onion chunks and cherry tomatoes. Grill the kebabs, turning them 2 or 3 times, until the lamb is medium rare (6–8 minutes), taking care not to overcook it. Remove the skewers from the grill, sprinkle them with salt, drizzle them with oil, and squeeze some lemon juice over them. Serve the kebabs immediately.

Tandoori Lamb Kebabs

Makes 4 servings

Tandoori paste is available in the Indian food section of most supermarkets, and it’s a great thing to have in your fridge. It adds intense flavor to chicken and lamb, and if you have the foresight to marinate the meat overnight, it also has a tenderizing effect. Serve these lamb kebabs with steamed basmati rice, a vegetable curry, and your favorite chutney.

eight 7-inch | 18 cm bamboo skewers, soaked for at least 1 hour

1/2 cup | 125 mL tandoori paste
1/3 cup | 75 mL yogurt
2 Tbsp | 25 mL lemon juice
3 Tbsp | 45 mL chopped fresh cilantro
one 3 lb | 1.5 kg boneless leg of lamb, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 large Spanish onion, cut into bite-sized chunks
3 oz | 75 g butter
lemon wedges and cilantro sprigs for garnish

Mix together the tandoori paste, yogurt, lemon juice, and chopped cilantro in a medium nonreactive bowl. Add the lamb chunks and coat them with the marinade. Refrigerate the lamb overnight if possible, or at least 1 hour. Thread the lamb chunks onto the skewers, alternating them with pieces of onion.

Heat the butter in a small saucepan just until it’s melted. Set it aside and keep it warm.
            Prepare your grill for direct medium heat. Place the kebabs on the cooking grate and grill them for 6–8 minutes, or until the lamb chunks are springy to the touch. Every couple of minutes, turn and baste the kebabs with butter (be sure to have your spray bottle at the ready; the butter can cause flare-ups). Remove the kebabs from the grill and serve them garnished with lemon wedges and cilantro sprigs.

Minty Potato Hobo Pack

Makes 4–6 servings

Why, oh why, do we ignore the glories of fresh mint in North American home cooking? It’s delicious, refreshing, and its aroma is like nothing else. This dish is insanely simple to make, and the combination of mint and potatoes will wow your guests.  Because this recipe calls for indirect heat, you can use the hot side of the grill to cook your steaks and grill your veggies.

6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
2 tsp | 10 mL dried mint leaves
1 large yellow onion
¼ lb | 125 g butter
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1/2 cup | 120 mL tightly packed fresh mint leaves
½ a fresh lemon, the other half cut into wedges for garnish
kosher salt

Bring the butter to room temperature.
            Take 6 feet | 2 M of wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil and fold it in half. Place the foil on a counter and coat it with about ¼ of the butter, leaving about a 4 inch | 10 cm margin all the way around the rectangle.
            Peel the onion and slice it into 1/4-in | 6 mm rounds, split the rounds into rings, and spread the rings to cover the buttered area of the foil. Cut the potatoes into ½ inch slices, leaving the skins on, and layer them on top of the onions, sprinkling a little dried mint and salt on each layer. Top the potatoes with a few dabs of the butter, reserving half of it for finishing the dish.
            Gather up the foil around the edges and close up the hobo pack, making it into a loaf-like cylinder. Make sure you have a tight seal all the way around.
            Prepare your grill for medium-high indirect heat. Place the hobo pack on the grill (away from direct heat), and cook for 15–20 minutes. At this point, you can take the hobo pack off the grill and it will retain its heat for at least half an hour if you have other things to prepare.
            When you’re ready to serve the potatoes, finely chop the mint leaves and set them aside. Put the hobo pack on a serving platter and carefully open it, taking care not to get burned by the escaping steam. Sprinkle half the chopped mint leaves over the potatoes, add the rest of the butter in daubs, and gently toss the mint, onions, and potatoes together. Sprinkle some salt and the rest of the mint leaves over the potatoes, drizzle them with a little olive oil, and squeeze the lemon over top. Serve the potatoes immediately, garnished with lemon wedges.

Barbecue Secret
It’s easy to burn the bottom of a hobo pack, but it’s hard to screw up using this basic technique. Make sure to use heavy-duty foil and double it. Coat the foil with oil or butter, then put whatever ingredient will take the most direct heat, like bacon or onions, first. Then lay on the rest of your ingredients in order of vulnerability and cooking time—potatoes next, then bell pepper, and so on, with any fresh herbs on top. Finish the package with a couple of dabs of butter or a drizzle of oil, seal it tightly, and place it on medium direct heat. If the bottom layer of onions and/or bacon get charred, they’ll add to the flavor. To avoid risk of burning altogether, cook hobo packs using high indirect heat.