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Grilled lamb kebabs with eggplant and charred tomato sauce

(Food Styling/Sheryl Julian and Catherine Smart; Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
May 25, 2011

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Serves 4

Lamb shoulder blade chops are nearly half the price of rib chops, but aren’t as aesthetically pleasing, making them a perfect cut for kebabs. Remove excess fat and use a small knife to cut around and discard the bones. Then cut the meat into 1-inch chunks before marinating. Cook quickly over high heat for a charred crust and rosy centers. Make the tomato sauce first so you can eat the kebabs right off the grill, at their peak. Add warm pita and chopped cucumbers in vinaigrette or serve on a bed of rice.

SAUCE

3 plum tomatoes, cored and halved
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and halved
1/2 red onion, core intact
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1. Light a charcoal grill or turn a gas grill to high.

2. Sprinkle tomatoes, red bell pepper, and onion with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Place vegetables, cut sides down, over hottest part of the grill. Cook 5 minutes. Move onions and peppers to a cooler spot, turning them. Turn tomatoes, and continue cooking on the hot part of the grill for 5 minutes. Keep the fire going.

3. In a food processor, combine tomatoes, red pepper, onion, garlic, and sherry vinegar. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and black pepper, if you like.

LAMB

4 pieces (2 pounds) lamb shoulder blade chops
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1. Soak 4 bamboo skewers for 20 minutes.

2. Cut lamb off the bones and into 1-inch pieces. Discard bones.

3. In a large bowl, combine oregano, garlic, cumin, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add lamb and toss well. Thread the lamb onto skewers.

4. Sprinkle eggplant with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper.

5. Place eggplant on the hottest part of the grill. Cook for 5 minutes on one side. Turn and cook the other sides for 3 minutes. Remove from grill. Sprinkle with vinegar.

6. Place lamb skewers on the hottest part of the grill. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn and cook the other sides for 3 minutes.

7. Remove lamb from grill. Serve with eggplant and charred tomato sauce.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick