Lamb is a meat a lot of people don’t think about very often, and that is a shame. Lamb has an excellent nutrient profile, delicate flavor, takes spices well and grills beautifully whether as chops or in this case kebabs!
We have been looking for an excuse to break out the skewers, and getting a great deal on some lamb loin chops gave us one. Throw in some gyro seasoning, olive oil, and a beautiful summer evening and you get some real magic going on.
We started with bone in loin chops, which were deboned and cut into chucks of about 2 ounces each, or about 1 to 1 and a half inch cubes.
In a large plastic bowl we blended 1 cup of olive oil, 1 cup of lemon juice, ¼ cup wine vinegar and the spices.
When possible you want to slice against the grain, and skewer from against the grain cut to against the grain cut rather than from top of a chop to bottom.
There are so many gyro spice combinations you can make and buy, but in this case we used citrus pepper, pink Himalayan salt, crushed dried mint, dill, garlic and Italian seasoning. I highly suggest you check out the many options on recipe websites or find a good gyro spice blend, due to the many regional differences. Mint is a definite must when using lamb or goat. We will list the amounts of the spices we used below.
Lightly squeeze the lamb and mix in the bowl until all the pieces are completely coated, then lay a piece of parchment paper, waxed paper or plastic wrap on top of the meat, press down lightly and refrigerate. Lamb can be marinated up to 8 hours, but we recommend you choose a shorter time frame as it tenderizes rapidly. In this case we went with 4 hours. To garnish our kebabs, we went with colored bell peppers, onion, mushroom caps and some fancy grape tomatoes. These are very substantial kebabs, and we used 4 pounds of meat for 8 kebabs.
To season 4 pounds of Lamb:
For the deepest flavor, you can mix your spices several hours before and steep them in the vinegar or lemon juice before combining with the olive oil.
Olive oil is used in this prep primarily because with light squeezing and kneading of the meat it penetrates and rewards you with a lightly crispy surface and extremely tender meat. Take lamb out of the refrigerator and lightly turn about 20 minutes before assembly.
If you like, you can use cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, zucchini or other vegetables. We happened to have these on hand.
If you wish to use denser vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower florets, cut them to slightly smaller than your lamb cubes and for extra flavor soak them in the seasoned lemon juice or wine vinegar for an hour the night before or in the morning.
We used 1 fancy tomato first, followed by pepper, onion, meat. Arrange such that each skewer has the same number of meat cubes and looks appealing.
With lamb you want to skewer through the meat across the grain. We recommend good quality metal skewers, and leaving about 2 inches of metal bare at the end.
Preheat your grill to 275, and we used our ceramic coated grill insert for convenience and it was preheated.
Once full preheated arrange your skewers and close. Inspect and turn the skewers with tongs from the center about every 3 minutes. Lamb tends to lack the dense structure of beef, so you may have to individually turn each piece. Keep grill closed between turns.
When you turn to the last side, lower your temperature to 200, and check after 4 minutes.
At this point you can use a meat thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 135 for rare lamb, 150 for medium, and 160 for well done. Allow kebabs to rest in a warm place for 3 to five minutes before serving.
Lamb is very easy to overcook! This is one reason an oil marinade is a good choice, and a meat thermometer is highly recommended. The resting time allows the lamb to finish reaching serving temperature internally and avoids overcooking.
While this dish can be eaten right off the skewer, we like to slice our lamb and veggies and stuff in a pita pocket with shredded lettuce and tzatziki sauce. Another option is topping a bed of leafy greens, garnished with tzatziki sauce and a generous helping of feta cheese.
Some popular side dishes include hummus, Tabouli, antipasto salad, other Greek foods like dolmades and baklava for dessert. For an interesting change, strip the skewer onto a pile of scrambled eggs for breakfast at dinner time!
The kebabs are displayed here with tzatziki sauce and mint jelly. We know, you generally don’t use mint jelly with gyros. However, we never claimed to be conventional!
This is approximate and based on a Kebab with 8 ounces of meat, 2 ounces mushrooms, 2 ounces bell pepper and 1 ounce onion:
These have proven to be a favorite meal, and this recipe also works well substituting beef, pork, chicken breast or goat meat. So if you are looking for a departure from the typical grill meats, don’t forget to look for some lamb! Until next time, keep on chillin’ and grillin’