Shashlik

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Meats | Shashlik

(Central Asian grilled skewered lamb)

Shashlik, or shashlyk, (Russian: шашлык) is essential picnic food in the countries of the former USSR. Succulent lamb is marinated simply, then skewered and cooked until meltingly tender on an outdoor grill. The word comes from the Turkish "shish" as in shish kebabs. Shashlik is known as mtsvadi in Georgia.

Image Creative Commons by Sergey Vladimirov

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Lamb leg or shoulder, boneless, cut into 1-inch cubes -- 2 pounds
  • Onion, thinly sliced-- 1
  • Salt and pepper -- to season
  • Lemons, juice only -- 2
  • Oil -- 3 tablespoons

Method

  1. Toss the lamb, onion, salt and pepper, lemon juice and oil together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to marinate. Overnight is best.
  2. Thread the chunks of meat on skewers and set at room temperature while you get a hot fire going in a grill.
  3. Grill the meat skewers over the hot grill flame, turning frequently, until done to your liking.
  4. Serve the skewers with a vegetable salad, slices of rye bread and shots of vodka or a nice Georgian wine.

Variations

  • Vegetable Skewers: Shashlik is often accompanied by grilled vegetable skewers. Popular veggies include cherry tomatoes, chunks of bell pepper, mushrooms and onion wedges. Toss the vegetables with a little lemon juice, salt, pepper, oil and any remaining marinade. Skewer separately and grill until cooked through.
  • Shashlik is usually made with lamb, but you can try beef, pork or chicken if you like. There is even such a thing as sturgeon shashlik!
  • Instead of lemon juice, some cooks use vinegar or a dry white wine. Others eliminate the acidic element altogether.
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