Perched on their own fragrant handle, these cinnamon-skewered beef kebabs are pan-fried and make a great holiday appetizer.Yum
It seems a little extravagant, and entire cinnamon stick used to impale a single kebab; but after all, it's chag, and the cinnamon so delightfully suffuses the meat, it's worth it as a party appetizer or starter dish for a festive meal. Made with shallot, garlic, pine nuts, parsley, and plenty of spice, the flavorful mix is easy to work with, and easy to dip in tahini or another favorite condiment.
If you're in the US, you can often find a large package of kosher cinnamon sticks at Costco, and look for them also in the Latino section of your supermarket (or at a Latino market).
Making the kebabs
Making the mixture for the kebabs is just a matter of prepping the materials and dumping them into a bowl with the ground beef. Like most meatballs, the mix for these kebabs is best kneaded by hand and left to meld in the refrigerator for an hour or two. However, if you don't have the time to chill the mixture, you can proceed right onto the next step (as I often do!).
I tried skewering the finished mixture onto the cinnamon sticks two different ways: one, by poking the cinnamon stick into the bottom center of the shaped kebab; and two, by forming the kebab around the cinnamon stick. I found that the second way, forming the kebab around the stick, seems to work better (see the picture about right). To do this, take a handful of the meat mixture and squeeze it around the cinnamon stick, compacting it in the closed fingers of your hand. You want to get the meat as thinly layered on the cinnamon stick as you can without it falling off, so that the meat will cook through.
Set out the finished meatballs on a plate and pan fry them in a small amount of olive oil over medium heat on all sides, until nicely crisped and browned.
These cinnamon-skewered kebabs can be served on a platter or plated individually with a dollop of tahini or other dip.
Looking for more meat starters and small bites?
- Lachmajun - Middle Eastern Meat-Topped Flatbreads
- Moroccan Meat Cigars
- Arayes - Israeli Meat-Stuffed Pita
- Middle Eastern-Spiced Meat-Stuffed Rolls
Cinnamon-Skewered Beef Kebabs (meat)
- 1 lb ground beef - 500 g
- 1 large shallot or small onion
- ¼ cup parsley
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- 3 Tbsp pine nuts
- ⅓ cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire or soy sauce
Kebab spice blend:
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp coriander
- ¼ tsp cumin
- pinch cardamom
- salt - to taste
- 10 cinnamon sticks
- olive oil - for frying
Make the kebab mixture:
- Begin by finely dicing the shallot/onion and pasley, then mincing the garlic. Add them to a large mixing bowl.
- To the bowl, add the pine nuts, bread crumbs, egg, and Worcestershire/soy sauce.
- Next, measure out the spices into the bowl, adding salt to taste.
- Finally, add the ground beef and combine everything well with your hands, kneading the meat mixture so that the spices are evenly distributed.
Shape the kebabs onto the cinnamon sticks:
- Take a fist-sized piece of the meat mixture and form it into a long kebab over a cinnamon stick, closing your fingers over the kebab to thin it out along the stick. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining meat and 9 cinnamon sticks.
Pan-fry the kebabs:
- Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the kebabs in batches into the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes on the first side. Turn and cook for another 3-4 minutes, then turn again towards an uncooked edge and cook for another 3-4 minutes. If the outside browns too quickly, turn the heat down to medium-low and continue cooking until cooked through.