Why It Works
- Alternating pieces of meat with morsels of lamb fat keeps these skewers juicy and tender.
- A special skewer setup for a charcoal grill recreates the type of rig traditionally used to cook arrosticini, without the need for a specialty grill.
Grilled arrosticini are a staple skewer from the Italian region of Abruzzo, which has a rich shepherding history. Traditionally, meaty and fatty pieces of mutton are threaded onto skewers, seasoned simply with salt, and grilled over charcoal on a long, narrow, channel-like grill called a canalina. Here, we use easier-to-source lamb shoulder in place of mutton, and grill the meat using a regular charcoal kettle grill that has been rigged for optimized skewer-cookery. This is a recipe for the Ron Swansons of the world who don't want frivolous fixings, sauces, or marinades getting in the way of their meat enjoyment.
- 2 pounds (900g) boneless lamb shoulder roast, with fat cap
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Using a sharp chef's knife, trim lamb of fat cap, reserving the fat. Cut fat into 3/4-inch-wide, 1/4-inch-thick pieces; set aside. Cut remaining lamb shoulder into 3/4-inch-wide, 1/2-inch-thick pieces; make sure to trim and discard silver skin and tough sinew as you go.
Thread 3 to 4 pieces of lamb onto a skewer, followed by one piece of lamb fat. Continue alternating pieces of meat and lamb fat, ending the skewer with 3 pieces of meat. Make sure meat is bunched tightly together, leaving no parts of the skewer exposed except for a 2-inch handle at the bottom, and the pointy tip at the top.
Set up grill for skewers, making sure to adjust distance between bricks to the length of your skewers. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly in the channel between the bricks.
Brush lamb on all sides with olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place skewers directly over the hot coals, balancing them on top of the bricks, with the handles overhanging the bricks closest to you, and the tips balancing on the farther wall of bricks. Cook, turning frequently, until lamb is lightly charred, and a piece of lamb looks cooked through when removed and cut in half, 6 to 9 minutes; if flare-ups occur, move the skewers around as needed to get them away from the flames. Transfer to serving platter, season to taste with salt, and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The grilled skewers are best enjoyed immediately. The lamb can be cut, threaded onto skewers, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerated for up to 24 hours in advance.