Moroccan Menu: Grilling Kebabs

Recently, a group of my friends and I got together and had a Moroccan-inspired dinner party. We eat, we drank, we laughed and generally had a grand time. I told another friend about it a few days later and he wondered if Moroccan food is difficult to make. It made me wonder how many people out there are missing out on this fantastic cuisine because they are intimidated. So I've been sharing some recipes from that gathering all week. Today marks the last of the recipes and it's quite the showcase:

These lovelies are beyond simple to make, but do require a few notes about ingredients and the art of being patient. First, please choose very lean meat. If you do not, the kebabs will scorch and burn and likely fall apart as the fat is rendered out of the meat. The lean meat does a great job of holding its shape and highlighting the amazing combination of flavors imparted by the seasonings and aromatics added to it. Also, once you've thoroughly mixed the meat (I usually just do this by hand, as it gives me more of a literal feel of how well-incorporated things are.), do yourself a favor and let it rest for about an hour before forming the kebabs. Forming the meat will be easier and it will be less likely to fall apart. When you're done forming the kebabs, you should have something that looks like this:

Now, before you fire up the grill, pause again to give the kebabs a rest in the refrigerator. Again, while not technically required, you are far more likely to have your kebabs cook up beautifully and avoid falling apart while grilling if you have a little patience and give them a pause. It's a great time to let the grill heat up and pour yourself a lovely glass of wine. Might I suggest an earthy Syrah?

Moroccan Beef Kebabs

  • 1 lb. extra lean ground beef
  • 3 T. finely chopped chives
  • 2 cloves gar­lic, finely minced
  • 1 T.­ finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. allspice
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil, for brush­ing kebabs

Mix all of the kebab ingre­di­ents together in a bowl. Cover with plas­tic wrap and refrig­er­ate for about ­­an hour to absorb the flavors. (If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water while you are refrigerating the meat.)

Wet your hands, and take out a small hand­ful of meat mix­ture out of the bowl, then shape it into a kebab cylin­der about 3 inches long. Press the kebab into the skewer, spin­ning the bot­tom of the skewer with one hand and mak­ing the final kebab shape with the palm of the other. Lay the kebabs down on a cookie sheet ­​­lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, cover with plas­tic wrap, and refrig­er­ate until ready for the grill. (This actually works best if the kebabs have at least a half hour to rest in the refrigerator before it's time to cook them.)

Pre­heat the grill­ to medium-​high­. Brush the kebabs with olive oil. Place on the grill and cook, with the grill lid down, for 2 to 3 min­utes on each side, or until done to your lik­ing. Turn only once.

  • Yields: 10-12 skewers
  • Preparation Time: 90 minutes

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