Grilled Mexican Lamb on a Stick, Sweet Corn + Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Cilantro


Photo by Michael Piazza / Styled by Catrine Kelty

These smoky, fragrant lamb bites, served alongside a coarsely chopped, rustic vegetable salad with charred tortillas for wrapping into tacos, are the best kind of outdoor food. A complete grilled supper, easy enough for a weeknight, but elegant enough for company on the weekend. Pour plenty of cold beer or sangria and make it a fiesta!

Serves 4

For lamb skewers:
1 pound boneless leg of lamb, sinew and some fat trimmed away, cut into 48 very small cubes (less than 1-inch square)
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Zest and juice of ½ orange
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, grated
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
¾ teaspoon sea salt
10 grinds of black pepper
2 tablespoons minced cilantro stems
3 shallots, quartered lengthwise
12 sungold cherry tomatoes

For sauce:
½ cup crème fraiche or sour cream
zest and juice of ½ lime
¼ cup minced cilantro
1 tablespoon minced chives
pinch sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For salad:
2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 red onion, quartered
3 ears sweet corn, shucked
2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup whole cilantro leaves
1 lime, juiced

To serve:
12 fresh corn tortillas
lime wedges
hot sauce, optional

In a bowl of warm water soak 4 wooden skewers for at least 20 minutes while you prepare the meat for grilling (otherwise use metal skewers). Toss the cubed lamb with all the remaining ingredients except shallots and cherry tomatoes and allow to marinate at room temperature at least 20–30 minutes. (Can be done in advance and refrigerated, up to 1 day ahead.)

While the lamb marinates, stir together the sauce ingredients and set aside, adding salt and pepper to taste.

In a bowl, using your hands, toss the sugar snap peas and red onion wedges with 2 tablespoons olive oil, then rub the remaining oil from your hands over the shucked corn. Season the peas, onions and corn with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

When ready to cook, light a charcoal grill and prepare the grates for grilling. Thread the lamb, shallots, and tomatoes onto the skewers while the grill heats: 12 pieces of meat, 3 shallots, and 3 tomatoes per skewer. Bring the meat and vegetables out to the grill, also the tortillas, a tea towel, and a clean platter to hold the lamb.

When the grill is hot and ready to cook, use a grill basket (or cooling rack on the grates) to char the snap peas and red onion. Place the corn on the grill and cook, rolling to lightly char all sides. Remove the vegetables from the grill as they are cooked and place them back into their bowl.

Place the lamb skewers on a hot part of the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until charred and done to your liking (because the cubes are so small, this should only take 5–6 to 10-12 minutes total for medium rare). Remove the skewers from the grill and place on the clean platter to rest. Lay the tortillas around the grill and char on both sides in two batches of 6. Remove them from the grill into the waiting tea towel and wrap to keep warm.

In the kitchen, while the lamb rests, cut the corn off the cob back into the bowl and roughly chop the onion. If you like, slice the snap peas on the bias, or just keep them whole.

Toss the vegetables together with the cilantro, lime juice, a good glug of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve each person a lamb skewer drizzled with the crèma sauce, some corn and pea salad, 3 tortillas, and a lime wedge, with hot sauce at the table.