Last summer, my husband Doug and I gifted our shish kebab machine to our daughter Mandy and son-in-law Ron on the occasion of their wedding. A year has passed, and we’re back in the Catskill Mts. of NY visiting the happy couple in their lovely mountain-top home.
To celebrate their first anniversary, the kebab machine was tuned-up and turned-on in order to dine on lamb shish kebab. The first order of business was to find American lamb for the dinner. Last year we purchased it from Heather Ridge Farm in a nearby burg, but orders must be made well in advance.
Since time was of the essence, we turned our sights to Todaro’s Salumeria, a local grocer-butcher shop in downtown Windham, NY, where new owner Robert Lani fulfilled our request in lightning-fast time.
|Aram Aslanian standing in front of Todaro’s Salumeria holding our prized leg-of-lamb!
|Doug trimming the leg of lamb
A day after the order was placed, an 11-lb. leg of lamb arrived – just in time for Doug to masterfully trim, cube, and marinate the lean, tender meat.
|The marinating mixture for the lamb.
Aram Aslanian, our best man, and Mandy’s Godfather, drove down from Maine as a surprise bringing with him a bottle of Ararat brandy for a celebratory toast. When Aram wasn’t looking, Doug took it upon himself to douse the lamb cubes with a hefty amount of the brandy creating an incredible marinade.
Once the bones were removed and the meat was cubed, we estimate there was about 8 lbs. of meat. Some pieces were too small for kebab so they were put aside for another recipe. (See below)
Here’s how Doug made the marinade:
|Ready to refrigerate
He placed the meat in a large bowl.
Poured about 1 cup of Ararat brandy over the meat and tossed. Added 2 coarsely chopped tomatoes, 1 coarsely chopped onion, 3 cloves chopped garlic, 2 Tbsp. freshly ground coriander seeds, 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Tossed to coat. Covered and refrigerated overnight for flavors to blend.
|Skewered lamb, ready to grill
The next day, just before skewering the meat, Doug adjusted the seasonings and added some salt at the last minute.
NOTE: If salt is added to the original marinade, too much of the meat’s natural juice is extracted causing the kebab to become dried out.
While the coals were heating up, I made a large pot of rice pilaf, grilled sweet onions along with red, yellow and orange bell peppers, and put together a salad.
|Ready to serve!!
It didn’t take long for the kebab to cook, and that was a good thing, for the scent of the kebab was absolutely hypnotic! We ate in silence, savoring every morsel of the brandy-infused lamb. It was one of those O-M-G meals and the BEST kebab experience – EVER!!
In case you were wondering, those smaller lamb pieces were used to make fassoulia (green beans) and lamb.
|Lamb pieces too small for kebab were cooked, then added to the green bean recipe.
|Fassoulia made with the cooked lamb bits was served over rice.
I cooked the lamb bones to make broth which was used as the base of the dish. This yielded about 6 cups of broth which was strained and chilled overnight. (Three cups were used in the recipe; the other 3 cups are in the freezer for another time.) The fat, which rose to the surface and solidified, was removed.
- To prepare the dish, I sauteed 1 medium onion and 2 small cloves of crushed garlic in a small amount of olive oil.
- Next I added the 3 cups of lamb broth,1- 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes with the juice, 2 Tbsp. red pepper paste, salt, pepper, allspice, ground coriander, dried oregano – amounts as desired.
- A 1-lb. bag of frozen cut green beans and the lamb bits were added last. This cooked, with pot cover tilted, over a medium-low heat for about 1 hour, or until the beans were very soft. (Be sure to stir now and then.)
- When done, I let it cool a while, then placed the fassoulia in a container, covered it and refrigerated it overnight.
It tastes better the next day, believe me!