Lamb Kebabs and Smoked Mac ‘n’ Cheese Made Easy on the Spark Grill
Charcoal grilling is easier than you think. I know people like their gas grills since they heat up quickly, temperature control is easy, and there’s the overall convenience. Some of the complaints I often hear about charcoal grilling include, it takes too long to heat up charcoal, it’s messy, it’s difficult to control the temperature, and refueling (especially if you run out of charcoal mid-cook) is not only awkward, but requires upper body strength.
I’m going to persuade you that cooking over charcoal is not as difficult as you might think. Most gas grills take about 15 minutes to heat up, and it takes about 15 minutes for charcoal to heat up in a chimney starter. The temperature of a charcoal grill can be controlled by the vents, the amount of charcoal used and the style of grilling (direct vs. indirect). Charcoal can be started with no mess by using a chimney starter and grill gloves. If you still don’t believe that grilling with charcoal is easy, then I think Spark Precision Charcoal Grill (Spark) can convince you.
The Spark Precision Charcoal Grill
Spark has created a revolutionary new grill that’s a game-changer. It combines the convenience of a gas grill’s turn-the-dial temperature control with the flavor of charcoal… letting you focus more on the culinary play, rather than the time consuming & messy start up process. Spark designed a charcoal “briq” that fuels the grill. Yes, one charcoal briq gets the job done. The charcoal briq is placed in a front-loading drawer, and with a turn-of-the-dial, the briq is “sparked” up. Spark makes a variety of briqs to pair with your cooking so you can grill, smoke, and even make pizza.
But before you get going, there is a seasoning briq that is used to prepare your Spark for use. Once you have completed the seasoning process, your grill is good to go.
Once the charcoal briq is ignited, turn the dial to your desired cooking temperature. Spark recommends leaving the lid open for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the plant-based accelerant to burn off. On average, it takes 10 minutes for the Spark to come up to temperature. So, you get the benefits of charcoal with the convenience of a gas grill.
The Spark comes with wide cast iron grates for superior caramelization and the grill marks Steven prizes. The Spark is well-constructed using double-walled porcelainized enamel and insulated steel. The Spark even has an app that allows you to monitor the grill and your food via Bluetooth technology.
Spark’s variety of briqs include the quick, the everyday, the high heat, and the “low and slow” briq. You select a briq based on the expected duration of your cook and the temperature you need. The quick briq will last between 30 to 45 minutes and heat to 400 to 600 degrees. I was able to cook the lamb kebabs and grilled veggies over charcoal on a weeknight in less than 30 minutes.
Lamb Kebabs and Smoked Mac and Cheese
Making the kebabs I used lamb tenderloin medallions that I marinaded in Steven’s tandoori sauce. (See below for kebab recipes) The lamb marinated overnight. To cook the lamb kebabs, I fueled the Spark grill with one of the quick briqs. The cast iron grill grates where hot and ready in about 15 minutes.
Using flat metal skewers makes it easier to manage and move the lamb and veggies while on the grill. The high heat of the Spark allowed me to sear the lamb kebabs and created delectable charred edges on the veggies. I cooked the meal (including preheating the Spark) in less than 30 minutes, often a weeknight goal. The food was infused with the smoky live-fire aromas, just as I’d hoped.
To test the everyday briq, I cooked a main dish and a side dish of mac ‘n’ cheese. The everyday briq will last 60 to 90 minutes. It allowed me to bake the mac ‘n’ cheese and then grill the main course.
Using Steven’s recipes for the lamb kebabs and the mac ‘n’ cheese. The yogurt in the lamb marinade helped tenderize the lamb. It was seared on the outside and tender on the inside creating a nice contrast of textures. The fragrant and warm Indian spices in the marinade complemented the flavor of the lamb. The grilled veggies provided freshness and balance to the lamb kebabs. Tandoori is often made with chicken, but I used lamb instead due to my recent tasty experience with a rack of lamb.
I made one change to Steven’s recipe. Toasting the breadcrumbs in a skillet to brown them and sautéing the slivered bacon to render the fat and crisp the bacon. Added garlic, fresh herbs, and the breadcrumbs, and toast until golden brown. By toasting the breadcrumbs ahead, I don’t need to add them as early in the baking process and it minimizes the chances the breadcrumbs will burn while baking the mac ‘n’ cheese. The mac ‘n’ cheese. was hot, cheesy, and gooey as I predicted, but with the added flavor of smoke by cooking over charcoal.
If I haven’t converted you to charcoal grilling yet, stay tuned for my upcoming posts on the cool, creative, and tasty ways to use the Spark Precision Charcoal Grill.
- Indian Tandoori Marinade
- Intro to Kebabs
- 13 Skewer and Kebabs from Around the World
- Mac and Cheese Hits the Grill