I'm a huge fan of street food, especially when it's easy to prepare—though this isn't always the case, as often the best "fast" food takes a deceptive amount of cooking and preparation ahead of time. Yet these kefta brochettes, from Jeff Koehler's Morocco, come together in the time it takes the charcoal to ash over, and are deeply flavorful, relatively inexpensive way to eat lamb off the summer grill.
Why I Picked This Recipe: I've seen sausage-like brochettes in North African restaurants in the past, but I'd never attemped to make them. I like that it's essentially like making a hybrid meatball and sausage, but with no need for stuffing or casing—and more immediate results. The spice combination and the herbs were also intriguing: nutmeg, paprika, cinnamon, and cumin.
What Worked: The texture of these kefta were phenomenal, incredibly juicy. I'm pretty sure this has everything to do with the grated onion, which adds moisture and keeps the mixture from being too dense (while also adding flavor of its own).
What Didn't: Though I followed the recipe closely, I found that my mixture was a little bit too wet by the time I went to shape it on the skewers. This made grilling and turning the keftas difficult. Next time, I'd mix the meat and spices first, then add in just enough onion to moisten it.
Suggested Tweaks: A combination of beef and lamb would also work well.
Adapted from Morocco
- 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb or beef (or a combination)
- 1/4 cup loosely packed chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (optional)
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mace, or 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 medium red onion, grated
- olive oil as needed
If using wooden skewers, soak them in a shallow dish of water while preparing the meat.
In the meantime, in a medium bowl, combine ground meat and remaining ingredients except the onion and olive oil. Incoporate most of the grated onion, taking care to not make the mixture too wet; it should remain somewhat sticky, like the texture of sausage. If the meat is relatively lean, add some olive oil.
Take a palmful of meat and press it around the middle of a skewer, then roll it lightly on a cutting board or between your palms to form an even "sausage" around the skewer about 6 inches long. Repeat with remaining skewers and meat.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill the skewers, turning once, until firm to the touch and cooked through. Serve hot.