Themes are great for parties, especially for someone like myself who always has trouble deciding what dishes to make whenever planning a menu. Too often I find myself wanting to make everything I can think of, forgetting about the power of cohesion.
Deciding on a theme for your menu first enables you to more easily figure out what it is you are going to make. It helps you scale down that mental list of signature party dishes while inspiring you to make new ones.
One party in particular that I threw for the 30th birthday of a dear friend of mine had a very specific food theme: Greek. My friend Tiffany loved (and still loves) food from the Mediterranean, and when I discovered what kind of food she wanted for her birthday, the scope of my thinking narrowed, enabling me to come up with a menu that was not only flavorful, but packed with the ability to send all of those that attended the gathering on a culinary journey through a region 1,000s of miles away.
These Grilled Lamb and Artichoke Skewers are inspired by the lamb skewers I made that night. Soaked in a bright citrus marinade, these rods of grilled meat and vegetables offer a flavorful balance and enough body to be considered a meal on their own. They are extremely low carb yet filling and a great item to put on the menu the next time you plan on having a gathering.
Grilled Lamb and Artichoke Skewers
(recipe serving size – 6 skewers)
For the skewers:
2 lbs lamb (leg), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
12 artichoke hearts, whole
6 wooden or metal skewers
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp rosemary, chopped
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, crushed red and cracked black pepper and garlic in a bowl. Place the lamb chunks into a plastic storage bag and pour 1/2 cup of the marinade over the meat. Place the artichokes into another plastic storage bag and pour the remaining 1/4 cup of marinade over the vegetables. Seal each bag tightly and place in the refrigerator. Marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
While the lamb and artichokes marinate, soak your wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent the wood from burning during the grilling process. If you are using metal skewers, this step can be skipped.
Place 3 pieces of marinated lamb and 2 marinated artichoke hearts on each skewer, alternating the lamb and artichokes.
Prepare your coals and let them burn until the coals have turned gray and the flames from the coals have calmed (you still should not be able to hold your hand over the heat for more than a second without it becoming too hot). Place the grill over the coals and allow time for the grill to heat up. Brush the grill with a little oil or coat the grill with cooking spray. Place the skewers directly above the heat on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. Turn the skewers over and cook for another 3-4 minutes for a medium doneness.
If you are using an indoor grill pan, warm the pan over medium-high heat and cook for the same amount of time.
Serve while warm.