Lamb Shish Kebab marinated in Ararat Brandy – NOT your average kebab!

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!

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