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The Hairy Barbie: Shashlik

This worked extremely well. There are all kinds of meat combinations, so I mixed beef and lamb and ended up thinking it doesn’t really matter which you use, although I’d always choose lamb out of preference! You need a fairly fatty cut – so cubes of lamb shoulder, pork shoulder. I did intend to put these on the barbecue, but as it was throwing it down with rain when testing, I grilled them on a very hot griddle pan instead and they took 3-4 minutes each side.

After I had put the meat on the skewers I cooked the marinade ingredients separately – just simmered them together until the onion softened and browned a bit. That was very good on the side. Regarding dips, most use either dill seed and coriander seed – or fresh dill and coriander, and I used the latter in sour cream and in the plum sauce.

But – as I read several times, pretty much anything goes with spicing here. The Russians will traditionally serve it with a very hot chilli sauce, which in recipes often gets diluted with tomatoes. But they also seem to like the plum sauce as well. I’ve seen versions of this when it’s made with tomatoes and plums have become “prunes” – that recipe is all over the internet. But I like this purer one.


Marinade:

1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil

100ml white wine

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1 onion, sliced

4 fat cloves garlic

3 crumbled bay leaves

1 tsp paprika

4 cloves

¼ tsp cinnamon


The meat:

1kg cubed lamb, beef or pork

 

Mix all the marinade ingredients together and add the cubes of meat. Make sure the meat is well covered, then leave to marinade for at least 2-3 hours or over night.

If you are using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak them for half an hour before using them – this is to make sure they won’t burn.

Thread the meat onto the skewers. Cook on a barbecue or a very hot griddle pan for 3-4 minutes on each side for beef and lamb, longer for pork, until well charred. The meat should still be very juicy and tender from the marinade.


Dips and Sauces for serving:
 

Sour Cream Dip:

200g sour cream

A handful of finely chopped dill

A handful of finely chopped coriander

1 tsp cider vinegar

1 pinch of sugar.

Mix all together!
 

Plum Sauce:

300g ripe plums, stoned and diced

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp cider vinegar

1 red chilli, or 1 tsp ground chilli

2 tbsp finely chopped coriander

2 tbsp finely chopped dill

Cover the plums with water and simmer until the plums are soft. Strain, reserving just 75ml of the cooking water, then puree the plums with the reserved liquid, sugar, cider vinegar and chilli.

Sieve the plums, season with salt, pepper and vinegar and stir in the dill and coriander.

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