The adventurous and savory taste of American lamb is a perfect match for the robust flavors of classic Indonesian-inspired satay. To begin, the marinade has a mix of lime juice, garlic, and oregano, and a nice soak in this acidic marinade compliments the lamb’s rich taste. Then there’s the exclamation point of the nutty dipping sauce: lushness from the peanut butter, a tart punch from the lime juice, salt from the soy sauce, some spiciness of heat from the fresh ginger and Sriracha, a touch of sweetness from the honey. There is a lot going on in this sauce—your mouth won’t know what hit it—but it comes together in a snap.
Is there nothing lamb can’t do? I hope once you taste this satay, you agree – there’s just no stopping lamb. (humming a few bars of Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen)….
And then a final dusting of crushed peanuts (More salt! More savory-ness! More texture!) and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro or coriander. Or, if you are a non-cilantro person, you can still get a pop of color and freshness with some chopped fresh parsley.
Best Type of Lamb for Kebabs
I couldn’t decide whether to make this with little pieces of leg of lamb or loin chops. And so I did what any indecisive recipe writer would do when working with the American Lamb Board—I made it with both. The short answer is that theirs is no wrong decision here—both cuts made terrific kebabs.
In the photos you can see a bit of how the two cuts differed. The leg of lamb sliced into more nubby little pieces, which gave all of the little edges some nice char (thank you to the honey!), and allowed the center of the meat to stay delightfully tender. But the sliced loin chops had their upsides, too—very easy to cut into pretty uniform slices, and then thread on the skewers, and a tender but toothsome bite to them. And unsurprisingly the marinade was equally suited to both cuts.
How to Cook Satay or Skewers
You can make satay (or skewers or kebabs) in a few different ways:
All work well, and all take about the same amount of time. How long in total depends on how thick or thin, big or small you cut the pieces of meat. I cooked these on a grill pan. The advantage of that cooking method is that you don’t have to soak the skewers to prevent them from burning—they never come near the direct heat source.
Lush, flavorful lamb turns into the most delicious satay, marinated in a simple marinade and served with a multi-layered peanut sauce. It cooks up in about 6 minutes!
One good reason to choose American lamb is that it’s 10,000 miles fresher than imported lamb, and you can be sure there are no growth hormones are used in lamb production in the U.S.
And when you choose American lamb you are supporting local family farmers and ranchers throughout the United States. And supporting local farmers is always something to feel good about. Lamb production varies around the United States due to the wide array of local conditions of the pastures, but most sheep actually graze in pastures their whole lives. Some are exclusively grass fed, while others are fed a combination of grass and wholesome grain.
Make Ahead and Storage
The marinade can be made and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead of time. You can marinate the meat for up to two days, knowing the flavors will get deeper the longer the lamb is marinated. You can also make the peanut sauce ahead of time, and store it for up to three days in the fridge. Return it to room temperature before using.
If you made the sauce head of time, plan to add anywhere from an additional 1 to 4 tablespoons of very hot water to loosen the dipping sauce up, depending on how thick or thin you want it.
Serve the Lamb Satay
Serve these skewers in their own with the dip for a very festive and bold appetizer. Or pair them up with rice or maybe this cheesy orzo casserole for dinner, and add a salad such as Zucchini Ribbon Salad, or Thai Cucumber Salad.
Other Lamb Kebabs
For the Lamb
- 2 pounds leg of lamb or 3 pounds loin lamb chops
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 ½ teaspoons dried
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Cut the lamb (whichever cut you choose) into slices about ¼-inch thick, and 1 x 2 inches big. If using loin chops, cut them lamb from the bone, then slice it. Save the bones to make lamb stock!
- In a bowl or container big enough to hold the lamb, mix together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper. Add the lamb, turn to coat the meat well, and marinate for 12 to 24 hours.
- Just before cooking, mix up the peanut sauce. Combine the peanut butter, lime juice, ginger, honey, soy sauce and Sriracha in a small bowl. Add 3 to 5 tablespoon very hot water until it reaches the consistency you like.
- If you are going to cook the satay under the broiler or on the grill, soak about 30 short or 20 long sewers in water to cover for 30 minutes. If you are using a grill pan, skip that step.
- Allow the lamb to return to room temperature for about 20 minutes before cooking.
- Skewer the meat, two or more pieces per skewer, depending on whether you want to use shorter or longer skewers, threading it so it’s secure.
- Oil a grill pan and heat it over medium high heat. Place the skewers on the grill pan and cook for about 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned, but still pink inside. Alternately cook them on a preheated medium high grill for about 3 minutes per side, or under the broiler, on a rimmed baking sheet for the same amount of time.
- Serve the skewers on a serving plate with the dip on the side. Sprinkle the peanuts and cilantro over the lamb if desired.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.