These lamb kabobs are spicy and full of flavor. These kabobs will become a staple in your cookout arsenal for years to come. I’ve been making variations of this recipe for a while now, but this is my favorite version. If you can’t find ground lamb, you can use ground beef, but it won’t be as flavorful. Ground lamb has a stronger flavor that stands up to the herbs and spices better than beef. Ground lamb tends to be fattier than ground beef as well, which makes for a juicer kabob. The Serrano chilies are pretty spicy, you can substitute jalapeños ( jalapeños are a little bigger, so use a jalapeño and a half) for a milder kabob.
The most important part of this entire recipe is getting rid of as much moisture as possible. Draining the onion after grating will get rid of a significant amount of moisture, but not nearly enough. If you don’t have a cheesecloth, you can drain the mixture in a fine mesh strainer. If using a strainer press the mixture with a rubber spatula until you squeeze out as much moisture as possible. If you leave all that extra moisture in you lamb kabobs, they will fall apart on the grill. Gelatin helps use absorb moisture and hold the kabobs together, but there is a limit to how much moisture it can absorb.
If this is a recipe you want to make during the week, plan ahead. Do the first three steps of the recipe the day before you plan to cook the kabobs. The flavor and texture will be much better the next day.
Makes 6-10 Kabobs
• 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
• 1 ½ teaspoons of coriander seeds
• 1 teaspoon of cumin
• 2 whole cloves
• 2 bay leaves crumbled
• 2 ½ teaspoons of chipotle chili powder
• 1 tablespoon of salt
• 1 packet of unflavored gelatin
• 1 medium red onion grated on a box grater and drained in a fine mesh strainer
• 1 cup of loosely packed cilantro
• 1 cup of loosely packed mint
• 4 garlic cloves roughly chopped
• 1 ½ tablespoons of ginger roughly chopped (about a 1-inch chunk, peeled)
• 2 serrano chilies roughly chopped
• 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar
• 2 pounds of ground lamb
1. In a small pan toast the peppercorns, coriander, cumin, and cloves over medium heat. Let the spices cool on a plate for a couple of minutes and then grind them and the bay leaves in a spice grinder or in a mortar and pestle.
2. In a food processor, add the onion, cilantro, mint, garlic, ginger, salt, sugar, and chilies. Pulse until the mixture is finely minced, you may have to scrape down the sides a couple of times to make sure there are no large chunks. Place the mixture in a cheesecloth and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. You’ll know it is dry enough when it packs together like a snow ball.
3. Combine the onion and herb mixture, dried spices (Don’t forget the chipotle chili powder.), and gelatin to the lamb and mix thoroughly. Put in a container, and refrigerate for at least a few hours, but I’d recommend letting the flavors meld overnight.
4. Light a full chimney of charcoal, but only put the coals on one side of your grill.
5. While the meat is still very cold, form the lamb kabobs around the skewers. You want them to be long and thin, and as evenly shaped as possible. I was able to get 8 kabobs out of this recipe, but it will all depend on the size of your skewers and how big you want your kabobs. *Work quickly. The second most important part of this recipe is making sure the mixture is cold while forming the kabobs. If the mixture gets too warm the fat will begin to melt, and your kabobs will fall apart on the grill.
6. Sear the lamb kabobs on the hot side of the grill directly over the coals. Brown the lamb kabobs on all sides and move to the cooler side of the grill to finish cooking. *Browning the outside of the kabobs first helps hold the mixture together and helps minimize the kabobs sticking to the grill. Alternatively, if you don’t have access to a grill, you can cook these in a 450-degree oven.