August 29, 2005
[Lamb Skewers with Thyme]
It's strange how much more comfortable I am around vegetables than meat. Vegetables are familiar, safe and easy to work with. I never run out of things to do with or to them, I know how to choose them, how they're supposed to feel in your hand, how long they keep and how they react to various treatments and seasonings.
Meat, on the other hand, is a much more mysterious matter. Different breeds, different cuts, different degrees of quality, tenderness and fat content, different methods of brining, curing, searing, roasting, grilling... and most of the time at the butcher shop, I have to rely on the little labels pricked into the meat to even know what animal it comes from.
But don't get me wrong, I love meat -- in fact I hardly ever order anything else in restaurants -- I simply have to push myself outside my comfort zone to cook with it more often.
I was waiting in line at the butcher's the other day, trying to decide what I could get that looked tasty and interesting, when I spotted their pre-assembled lamb skewers, all colorful and pretty. I was tempted but I thought, where is the fun in ready-to-cook skewers? And since I had tomatoes, onions and bell peppers at home, I opted to just buy the meat, and make my own simple lamb and thyme skewers.
Assembling skewers is every bit as fun as stringing pearl necklaces, only you get to eat the tender, fragrant, caramelized meat afterwards -- a much nicer reward for your efforts if you ask me.
Brochettes d'Agneau au Thym
- 600g (1.3 lbl) lamb shoulder or leg of lamb (épaule ou gigot)
- 1 white onion
- 2 small tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- dried thyme
- salt, pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
Cut the meat in one-inch cubes (you should have about twenty), or ask the butcher to do it for you. Peel the onion, quarter it, then cut each quarter in two. Separate the layers of onion. Quarter the tomatoes, cut out their stems and run your thumb in the cavities to remove the juice and seeds. Quarter the bell pepper lengthwise, remove the stem, white membranes and seeds. Cut in one-inch pieces.
On a clean cutting-board, arrange the meat cubes in four lines. Intersperse them in a regular pattern with pieces of tomato, onion and bell pepper, dividing these equally among the four lines. Thread each prepared line onto a skewer, sprinkle generously on all sides with salt, pepper and thyme, and transfer into a baking dish.
Cook in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, depending on the desired doneness (I like pink inside), turning the skewers halfway through. Serve immediately.
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