Brochettes d’agneau au thym
It’s strange how much more comfortable I am around vegetables than meat. Vegetables feel 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 to me. Different breeds, different cuts, different levels 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.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating meat, but I have to push myself outside my comfort zone to cook with it.
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-made 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 — an even nicer reward for your efforts.
- 600 grams (1.3 pounds) lamb shoulder or leg of lamb (épaule or gigot)
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 small tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- Dried thyme
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Assemble the skewers 2 hours ahead of time if possible, so the seasoning will have time to permeate the meat.
- Cut the meat into 2.5-cm (1-inch) cubes; you should get about twenty. You can also 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, membranes and seeds. Cut in 2.5-cm (1-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 to a baking dish large enough to accommodate them comfortably. If there is time, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
- Cook the skewers in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, to desired doneness (we like them pink inside), flipping the skewers halfway through. Serve immediately.
- Alternatively, these skewers can be cooked on the barbecue.