Lamb kebabs seasoned for todays taste

By The Culinary Institute of America Published:

HYDE PARK, N.Y. (AP) Cube it, skewer it and throw it on the grill kebab makes the most of a springtime favorite, leg of lamb.

Heres a version that blends the refreshing bite of fresh herbs with the pungency of cinnamon and ginger, as well as the brilliant colors of saffron and turmeric. These spicy lamb kebabs with pickled grapes offer something new for todays flavor-focused generation: an exciting fusion of Greek and Asian cuisine.

Customarily a food of the Middle East, kebab (grilled skewered meat), or a form of it, can be found on menus around the globe. From Russian shashlik and Far Eastern teriyaki to French en brochette, Southeast Asian satay and Japanese yakitori, skewered food is popular in many cultures.

The uncomplicated preparation, dramatic presentation and effortless cleanup make kebabs a pleasurable meal to create and to eat. All it needs is fresh ingredients, a set of skewers and a hot grill.

Kebabs can be made with a variety of meats, seafood or vegetables. Lamb, the classic choice, blends well with bold marinades and the charred, smoky flavor imparted by the grill.

When preparing the ingredients, cut the pieces into uniform, bite-sized portions. This ensures that the kebabs will cook evenly and at the same rate, and the individual pieces will be manageable to eat.

Oil-based marinades, such as the one used for these spicy lamb kebabs, add character to the ingredients, as well as moisture. The trick to grilling meats successfully is getting enough fat, whether from the meat itself or the oils from the marinade, to counteract any potential dryness that can occur as a result of grilling.

The most effective way to marinate is to place the ingredients, along with the marinade, in a heavy-duty resealable bag. The bag should be sealed tightly and stored in the refrigerator. This method keeps the food evenly coated in marinade without having to turn or stir it. Scrape off any excess marinade before grilling. Excessive amounts of oil on the food can cause a fire to flare up from the oil dripping down onto the coals or grill burner.

Dan Turgeon, professor in culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America, offers these tips in the event of a grill fire. Take immediate steps to put out the flames. Move foods away from the flames onto a cooler spot of the grill. Often, the flames will burn out quickly. Once they do, clean the grill rack well to remove any charred ingredients.

To keep flames under control once a flare-up has occurred, raise the grill rack if possible, Turgeon adds. Another option is to spread out the coals so that there is a little space between them.

This recipe, along with more than 175 others, is explained and illustrated in The Culinary Institute of Americas Grilling cookbook (Lebhar-Friedman, 2006, $35).

Spicy Lamb Kebabs

3-pound boneless leg of lamb

5 tablespoons minced garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 teaspoons minced flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons minced oregano leaves

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons minced ginger

2 teaspoons Spanish-style paprika

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron threads

16 bamboo skewers

32 Pickled Grapes (recipe follows)

Trim the lamb and cut it into 1-inch cubes; you should have about 48 pieces.

Thoroughly combine all the remaining ingredients except the grapes. Coat the meat evenly with the mixture. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 and up to 12 hours.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling. Soak the bamboo skewers in cool water for 30 minutes. Drain just before using.

Preheat a gas grill to medium-high. If you are using a charcoal grill, build a fire and let it burn down until the coals are glowing red with a moderate coating of white ash. Spread the coals in an even bed. Clean the cooking grate.

While the grill is heating, thread 3 pieces of meat and 2 grapes on each skewer. Grill until medium-rare, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Serve at once.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information per kebab: 440 cal., 36 g pro., 36 g carbo., 16 g fat, 730 mg sodium, 140 mg chol., less than 1 g fiber.

Pickled Grapes

11/2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 teaspoon salt

16 seedless green grapes

16 seedless black grapes

Combine the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon stick and salt in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.

Pour the mixture over the grapes, and allow the grapes to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight, covered. The grapes are ready to use now or they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 32 pickled grapes.

Nutrition information per grape: 20 calories, 0 g protein, 5 g carbo., 0 g fat, 10 mg sodium, 0 mg chol., 0 g fiber.

Recipes from The Culinary Institute of Americas Grilling cookbook (Lebhar-Friedman, 2006, $35), available at bookstores nationwide or at:

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