Recipe: Pintxos Morunos (Lamb) From the Kitchen Window column
NPR logo Pintxos Morunos (Lamb)

Pintxos Morunos (Lamb)

With seasonings from Northern Africa, Spaniards often prepare pintxos morunos with pork. This is a more traditional halal recipe: seared lamb marinated in lemon and cumin with salsa verde. The recipe has several steps, but most need to be done ahead of time, making serving at a party a cinch. Be aware, the meat ideally needs two days to marinate. The combination of flavors and tenderness of the meat is well worth the work. This recipe is adapted from Boqueria in New York City, soon to open in Washington, D.C. (171 Spring St., New York, NY; 1837 M St., Washington, D.C.). You will need 16 wooden skewers.

Eve Turow for NPR
Pintxos Morunos (Lamb)
Eve Turow for NPR

Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup Pickled Shallots (recipe below)

1 cup Salsa Verde (recipe below)

20 ounces lamb top round, skewered and marinated (recipe below)

1 filone loaf (Italian bread) or other white, crusty bread

Remove fat and veins from the lamb top round. Dice into 2-inch cubes. Place 3 or 4 cubes on a skewer, depending on size. Place skewers in marinade and leave for 2 days, refrigerated.

When ready to serve, place a pan over medium-high heat with a thin layer of oil. When hot, season each marinated lamb skewer with salt and sear each side on the pan, rotating until browned on each side and medium rare inside.

Meanwhile, heat a half slice of filone toast also in the pan, if there is space, or in a toaster oven, until it is lightly crisped. Place 2 skewers of lamb on top of the bread, 1 tablespoon of pickled shallots on top and 2 teaspoons salsa verde. Eat immediately.

Pickled Shallots

Makes 1/2 cup

1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots

1/8 cup red-wine vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Pinch of sugar

Pinch of salt

Place sliced shallots in a container. Bring vinegar, oil, sugar and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan. Pour the liquid over the shallots. Cool, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, up to several weeks.

Salsa Verde

Makes 2 cups

1/4 bunch chives, finely minced

1/4 bunch flat parsley, finely minced

2 sprigs thyme, finely minced

2 sprigs rosemary, finely minced

2 shallots, finely sliced

2 1/4 teaspoons pickled guindilla peppers, finely minced (may substitute other pickled peppers)

1 cup canola blended oil (equal parts canola oil and olive oil)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

3/4 tablespoon olive oil

Pinch kosher salt

You may mince spices by hand or with a food processor. Once chopped, mix chives, parsley, thyme, rosemary, shallots, guindilla peppers and oil together in a container. Refrigerate. Before serving, mix in the lemon, sherry vinegar, olive oil and kosher salt.

Moruno Marinade

Makes 4 cups (a quarter-gallon)

2 teaspoons black cumin

1 teaspoon coriander seed

1 teaspoon black peppercorn

2 teaspoons fennel seed

4 tablespoons pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup salsa verde (recipe above)

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

4 cups blended oil (canola and olive oils)

Toast cumin, coriander, peppercorn and fennel seed by placing the spices in a bare pan over medium heat. When the spices become fragrant, in 1 to 2 minutes, remove spices from the pan to avoid overheating. Let the spices cool and then grind, using a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder or spice mill. Add remaining ingredients. Store in an airtight plastic bag or box, large enough to fit the skewered meat.