Whenever my mother comes to visit me, she brings some Rare Breed lamb that she gets from her local farmers market. Having previously never heard of Rare Breeds before, I looked them up online and this is what BBC Food has to say:
Rare breed lamb is farmed non-intensively. The meat is dark, closely textured and lean, and tastes like a cross between lamb and venison.
She brought some lamb shoulder steaks, some rare breed beef rib eye steaks, rare breed oxtail and rare breed half leg of lamb. I was keen on trying these as soon as possible and decided on making kebabs with the lamb shoulder steaks. The meat is much darker as BBC mentions and the fat is creamy and thick around the edges. I removed a lot of the harder pieces of fat but left a thin strip of the softer fat to ensure the meat doesn’t dry out when I cook them on the griddle pan. With some of the leaner pieces, I put tiny squares of fat on top of them so when they were cooking, the fat would melt and juices will be absorbed by the meat below.
|North African spiced lamb and vegetable kebabs with Tabbouleh|
These kebabs were quick and easy to make and tasted amazing at the end. The flavour was a stronger lamb flavour but the texture was melt in the mouth divine! When you remove the meat from the skewers they weren’t hard but soft and juice and a very light pink on the inside. Not being one to cook the same dish twice in a row, I decided to use the second pack of lamb with a Chinese recipe from Chinese Food Made Easy (Ching-He Huang).
I’ll start with the first batch though, this one I made using a marinade my mum taught me to make while I was living in Egypt. It’s so easy, just olive oil, a bit of mint, salt, pepper and some lemon. I let that marinate for about half an hour while I made the vegetables. Red pepper, green pepper and mushrooms, I would have put cherry tomatoes too but I didn’t have any to hand. For these I tossed them in a bit of olive oil and some Za’tar spice mix from Seasoned Pioneers.
To accompany I made a simple tabbouleh, except I didn’t have any bulgar wheat so I used cous cous instead. I also felt there wasn’t enough carbs for the dish, so I upped the cous cous in the tabbouleh to make up for it. It still retained its classic flavour but the cous cous soaked up the lamb juices when the skewers sat on top so they were even better! The only advise I need to give about tabbouleh, is to chop everything as small/finely as possible. I use one of these herb choppers to chop everything at once – all the herbs, the onions, the tomatoes, everything!
|Chinese spiced lamb skewers with noodles, spring onion, bok choy and chili|
For the Chinese spiced dish, I felt it was again light on the carbs some I made some egg noodles and bok choy to accompany. I bought some chilli paste from the local Thai restaurant to mix in with the egg noodles tossed in sesame oil, then dolloped a bit on the side to dip the meat in.
I really like the spices used in the Chinese version, I think they definitely complimented the taste of the meat. But Ching-He actually accompanies the dish with fennel and orange salad which in hindsight would have probably worked a lot better than my sides. The strong flavours of the lamb needed something (other than chilli) to cut through the fatty juices. I didn’t have anything to hand at the time, but a light sour salad would work better next time I make this for summer barbeques.
So there we have it, two ideas for skewered lamb. Enjoy. :)
North African Spiced Lamb and Vegetables with Tabbouleh
350g Lamb shoulder steaks, cut into large chunks
1 tsp dried Mint
1 tbsp Za’tar spice mix
1 red Pepper, 1 green Pepper, chopped into squares
handful of brown Mushrooms
¼ cup Cous Cous/Bulgar Wheat
large bunch of Parsley, finely chopped
small bunch of fresh Mint, finely shopped
2 Tomatoes, finely chopped
½ Onion, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper
Start by removing any hard pieces of fat from the lamb. Then marinate the lamb pieces, coat them in salt, pepper and add a sprinkle of mint. Squeeze ¼ lemon and about ½ tbsp of olive oil and use your hands to mix it all together. Leave that to one side for as long as possible (overnight in the fridge is ideal).
Put your peppers and mushrooms into a bowl, sprinkle the Za’tar mixture over them and a bit of olive oil. Toss until well covered. Then you can skewer your lamb and vegetables. I like to put veg in between the lamb so that they get some of the juices from the meat during cooking. The mushrooms especially need fat to get going. This recipe will make 6 skewers.
Heat a griddle pan until hot then lay the skewers on top. Get you man into barbeque mode and get him to turn the meat as you prepare the tabbouleh. The meat need roughly 4-5 minutes per side.
Chop tomatoes, onions, fresh parsley and mint until fine. Prepare cous cous or bulgar wheat to packet instructions and mix together. The dressing is made with olive oil, half a lemon and salt and pepper. Mix well with a spoon .
When the meat is cooked, put a large spoonful of tabbouleh on the plate, followed by two skewers of meat. Drizzle with a little bit of the meat juices and eat.
Chinese Spiced Lamb Skewers with Noodles, Bok Choy and Chilli
350g Lamb shoulder steaks cut into chunks
1 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 tsp dried Chilli flakes
¼ tsp Paprika
1 tsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp rice wine Vinegar
1 head Bok Choy
3 cloves Garlic
1 nest egg Noodles
2 tbsp Chilli paste
2 spring Onions, sliced at an angle
Salt & Pepper
Combine spices, salt and a bit of olive oil in a bowl and marinate the meat for 30 minutes. Heat a griddle pan until hot and cook meat for 3-4 minutes per side.
Stir fry bok choy in oil and crushed garlic cloves until wilted, remove and put to one side. Cook noodles to packet instructions, then drain and toss in the wok used for the bok choy. Add one tbsp of chilli paste and a sesame oil to taste. Toss until coated.
Assemble dish, adding a bit more chilli paste on the side as necessary. Drizzle meat juices over the meat and noodles and scatter with a bit of spring onion. Eat.