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Shawarma Kebabs

fig. b

Shawarma Kebabs

Kebabs are the ultimate slow-cooked, handheld food – slices of spiced, woodfired meat, sweet and juicy, wrapped in a grilled flatbread and served with a charred salad and cooling yogurt. As a young man, I had a weakness for a kebab after a late night on the town, but cooking this Middle East-inspired lamb recipe has redefined them for me and rekindled that once-guilty pleasure.

Shawarma Kebabs

Makes – 8 kebabs

Ingredients:

  • 2kg (4½lb) lamb shoulder, boned
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
    For the marinade
  • 20 mint leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp ras el hanout
  • 1 tsp smoked chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp smoked sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
    To serve
  • 4 Little Gem lettuces
  • 8 flatbreads, grilled
  • 100ml (3½fl oz) natural yogurt

Equipment:

  • spit roaster
  • set of rotisserie spiked rods
  • charcoal fire
  • meat probe

Shawarma Kebabs Method

  1. Start by preparing your lamb shoulder. Cut the meat into large, thin slices less than 1cm (½in) thick. You are aiming to carve the meat into sheets with a good surface area, which you can then layer onto your spit, so the larger and thinner the better.
  2. Once you have sliced the lamb, add the marinade. Sprinkle all the dry ingredients over the meat, then drizzle with the olive oil (fig. a) and massage into the lamb slices until they are evenly coated. Next, season the slices well with salt and pepper and add another drizzle of olive oil.

    fig. a

  3. Place a set of square rotisserie spiked rods onto one end of the spit, and secure into place in the middle section for balance when cooking.
  4. Feed your lamb slices onto the spiked rods, one at a time, to form the first layers (fig. b); you want the herbs from the marinade sandwiched between the layers. Alternate the direction and placement of the slices on the spikes, from one piece to the next, so that all the lamb is tightly squeezed together in one mass. Repeat until all the lamb is layered onto the spit.

    fig. b

  5. Feed another set of rotisserie spikes onto the other end of the spit and squeeze the two sets together to form one continuous kebab, held firmly in place.
  6. Light a charcoal or wood fire 45 minutes ahead of cooking and when the embers are glowing, place your spit approximately 30–50cm (12–20in) above the hot coals. Cook the lamb for 2 hours 30 minutes, until the internal temperature is above 75°C (165°F) and the meat is juicy, rotating the spit by a quarter-turn every 15 minutes or so. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Once rested, carve the self-basted juicy kebab straight from the spit (fig. c). Slice the Little Gem lettuces lengthways into quarters and char on a grill over the coals for 2–3 minutes, then slice thinly. To serve, fill the flatbreads with a generous serving of the warm lamb, the charred Little Gem, and a drizzle of yogurt.

    fig. c

Expert Tips:

  • Try using a motorised rotisserie attachment to rotate your kebabs. These can work really well and be set to run continuously at varying speeds, so you don’t need to manually rotate the spit.
  • To avoid wasting any flavour, place a drip pan under the kebab to catch any juices and to avoid flare-ups when the fat hits the fire below. Use these juices to baste the kebab.

Recipes extracted from The Artisan Kitchen by James Strawbridge, Published by DK Books, RRP $49.99 AUD/  $55 NZD

The Artisan Kitchen by James Strawbridge

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