Tuesday 17 July 2018

Forkful's speedy suppers: Lamb Skewers with Couscous

Lamb skewers with couscous. Photo: Mark Duggan.
Lamb skewers with couscous. Photo: Mark Duggan.

Aoife McElwain

Easter fell quite early this year, which I think had an impact on the planning of lamb lunches. Lamb is readily available year round, of course, but spring lamb season is roughly from February to June. And if you're wondering what the difference is, it's simply that spring lamb is a lamb that is aged three to five months old when it is butchered. This Easter saw us eating lamb a little earlier than usual, which has meant that I've been reminded of my love for lamb ahead of schedule.

Following on from my recipe the week before last for a leftover lamb pilaf, this week I'm suggesting a quick grilling of chunks of lamb, marinated in a Moroccan-influenced spice mix. My trusty harissa paste is put to work in this marinade, alongside cumin and cayenne. It's a marinade that really clings to the meat, meaning it's ready for the grill immediately, as opposed to needing a long time in the fridge.

Like any meat, try to source it from a butcher that you trust. They can help you to decide on what cut would work best for you when you set about to make my lamb skewers. The fast-cooking succulence of lamb steak is my choice cut.

I've paired my skewers with a simple couscous this week. I've only run a few ingredients through the couscous to make sure the lamb is the star of the show.

Lamb Skewers with Couscous

Serves 2

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes


For the lamb skewers: 2 tablespoons of harissa paste

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

1 tablespoon of olive oil

300g lamb steak, trimmed and chopped into chunks

12 cherry tomatoes

For the couscous:

150g of couscous

Half a lemon

Handful of fresh mint

Half a pomegranate

For the garlic yoghurt: 4 tablespoons of yoghurt

1 clove of garlic

1 tablespoon of lemon juice


1. Place the harissa paste, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and mix everything together until you have a smooth, well-blended paste.

2. Add the lamb to the mixing bowl and mix really well until the lamb is covered in the marinade. You can leave this in your fridge for a couple of hours if you like, but it is ready to be cooked immediately.

3. Thread the lamb and the cherry tomatoes evenly onto six skewers. Place them on a baking tray and cook under your grill, or fry on a griddle pan with a little olive oil over a high heat. The lamb will be cooked within eight to 10 minutes. Be sure to turn the skewers a few times, so that the lamb is evenly browned.

4. Meanwhile, make your couscous by placing the couscous in a large bowl. Pour hot water over the couscous until it is just covered. Let it sit for 10 minutes before fluffing it up with a fork. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and mix again with the fork. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Finely chop a handful of fresh mint and remove the seeds from the pomegranate. Mix both through the couscous.

5. Place four tablespoons of yoghurt into a bowl. Finely grate the garlic and mix into the yoghurt. Squeeze in the lemon juice and mix well.

6. Serve the couscous and lamb skewers with some garlic yoghurt on the side.

This week's storecupboard essential:

Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper in its dried and ground form is the secret weapon of a good spice cupboard. It packs serious heat, and adding a pinch to a marinade or a stew goes a long way. Cayenne is also believed to speed up metabolism, thanks to the high amount of capsaicin in the peppers.

Irish Independent

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