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Barbecue Secrets

Final recipe of the week, summer 2014 - Duck Kebabs with Pomegranate Molasses and Harissa Sauce

Aug 30, 2014

I had a bunch of duck meat leftover from a sausage-making project and wanted to use it as an appetizer at a big party, so I came up with these tasty kebabs. The pomegranate molasses adds some tang and brings out the flavour of the duck, and the harissa sauce gives it a nice spicy kick. If you can’t find duck or it’s too pricy, this treatment would also work well with boneless skinless chicken thighs, or even lamb.

Makes 8 to 12 skewers depending on portion size

For the kebabs:
2 lbs | 1 kg boneless, skinless duck or chicken thigh meat
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup | 50 mL pomegranate molasses (available in stores that carry middle-eastern foods or see recipe below)  
1 Tbsp | 15 mL extra virgin olive oil
short bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least an hour or overnight
Another 1/4 cup | 50 mL pomegranate molasses for the finishing glaze
Apple wood chips (optional)

For the harissa sauce
½ cup harissa paste
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
½ tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp water

Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and thoroughly whisk them together. Adjust the amounts of each ingredient to suite your taste. Set the sauce aside.

To prepare the kebabs, cut the duck or chicken meat into bite-sized pieces and place them in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, molasses and olive oil and mix everything together to coat the meat. Marinate for at least half an hour (you can marinate them overnight in the fridge if you like). Thread the meat chunks onto skewers so they’re packed tightly together.

Prepare your grill for medium direct cooking and use apple wood or your favorite cooking wood as a flavouring agent. If you’re using a charcoal grill, just place a small handful of chips on the hot coals just before you’re ready to grill. For gas grills, place the chips in a cigar-like packet made of aluminum foil. Poke some holes in the foil. When your grill is almost preheated, place the package below the cooking grate, being careful not to burn yourself as you lift the grate with your tongs. When you see light wisps of blue smoke coming out of the grill, you’re ready to go.

Just before you start cooking, drizzle or brush a little olive oil on the kebabs. Place them on the cooking grate and cover the grill.  Cook, turning often, until the meat is springy to the touch, about 3 to 5 minutes. During the last minute of cooking time, baste the kebabs with pomegranate molasses to give them a shiny coating.

Remove the kebabs from the grill and let them rest just a few minutes. Finish them with a light sprinkling of salt, a drizzle of olive oil and a gentle dab of the harissa sauce along the length of the top side the kebabs.  Serve immediately.

Pomegranate Molasses

Make this delicious syrup the same way you’d make balsamic reduction.

Makes about 1 1/4 cup | 300 mL

4 cups of pomegranate juice
½ cup sugar
a squeeze of lemon juice

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer the mixture until it’s reduced to a thick syrup, about ¼ to 1/3 of the original volume. Cool and store in the fridge. It keeps for months.