Salmoriglio Lamb Skewers with Caper Mint Sauce

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Oregano grows wild all over the countryside in Sicily and Calabria. The Sicilians make judicious use of it with salmoriglio sauce. The word means ‘to brine’ and it is used to marinate fish, pork or lamb or just served as a sauce. You can either barbecue skewers or prepare this as a whole butterflied leg of lamb. The longer you leave it to marinate the better, overnight if possible.

Preparation: 15 Minutes, Plus at Least 2 Hours Marinating
Cooking: 20 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) boneless leg of lamb, butterflied
  • 3 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 heaped tablespoons soft brown sugar
  • 50 ml ( fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
  • 15 g (½ oz) oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Caper mint sauce

  • ¼ cup flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • ¼ cup mint leaves
  • 1 anchovy, rinsed
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons tiny capers in brine, drained
  • 3 teaspoons sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 80 ml ( fl oz/ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • large pinch of chilli flakes

Method

Season the lamb all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cut the lamb into 5 cm (2 inch) pieces and place in a glass or ceramic dish.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, then pour over the lamb and massage the marinade into the meat. Cover and stand for 2 hours or refrigerate overnight if time permits. Bring back to room temperature before grilling. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes to prevent them from burning during cooking. Thread the meat onto the skewers.

Meanwhile, to make the caper mint sauce, finely chop all the herbs, anchovy, garlic and capers and combine them in a small bowl. Add the vinegar and oil, season to taste with salt, pepper and chilli flakes, and set aside.

Light a charcoal grill and allow the coals to die down to a pinkish-grey colour. Use indirect heat to let the lamb cook slowly without burning, by placing a drip pan between the coals and the grill. If using gas, turn off the middle heat source so that there is no heat directly below the meat. Cook for 4 minutes each side. Loosely cover the lamb with foil and rest for 10 minutes, then serve with the caper mint sauce, Borlotti Bean & Olive Salad or simmered lentils.