Boulud Sud's Aaron Chambers On How To Make Lamb Kebabs

"I was a vegetarian for 19 years," says Aaron Chambers, Executive Chef at Boulud Sud across from NYC's Lincoln Center. Of course, things have changed now that he heads the kitchen at Daniel Boulud's Mediterranean-influenced restaurant, where spice-marinated, flame-grilled Colorado lamb kebabs are not to be missed. We followed him around the kitchen to learn the recipe.

"Normally a kebab is not a first cut of meat, it's a second cut of meat like leg, shoulder or belly. You'll want to cut it into small pieces," Chambers says. Small pieces cook fast, which means less time until you're eating some of the juiciest, most flavorful lamb you've ever had.

Where are the veggies interspersed with the lamb? None to be found here, and for good reason.

"I'm not opposed to it," says Chambers, "but I feel like the vegetables never cook through. Your meat will be perfect and rested to a nice medium-rare, and the onions and peppers will still be raw and crunchy."

By gosh, he's right.

Here's what you'll need for six hearty skewers (plan on two to three per person):

  • 1 1/2 pounds lamb leg or shoulder, trimmed
  • 1 cup harissa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon each dried mint and cilantro
  • Grapeseed oil as needed
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

  • Tzatziki sauce, for serving
  • All photos by Gabi Porter. Click on any photo to launch a slideshow.

    Cut the lamb into cubes

    Cut the lamb into even, 1-inch cubes using a very sharp knife. You may want to freeze the lamb for 20 minutes to make this easier.

    Make the spice blend

    Thoroughly combine the spices in a bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture and seal the rest in an airtight container to use for the next batch. There will definitely be a next batch. Combine the spice mix with enough grapeseed oil to make a slurry (thin paste) and toss with the lamb cubes until evenly coated.   

    Skewer the lamb

    Divide the cubes among six skewers and thread them on snugly.

    Clean the grill

    Clean the grill well using a lightly oiled cloth to prevent the lean lamb from sticking to the grates. 

    Grill the kebabs

    Place the kebabs on the grill with plenty of space in between and grill, without moving them, for 3 minutes.

    Flip, rest and serve

    Flip and grill on the other side for 3 minutes, then carefully remove from grill. Remember, metal skewers will be extremely hot. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges and tzatziki sauce. 

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