Shashlyk Five Fingers

by Florian

Azerbaijan Cuisine - Shashlyk Five Fingers

I’ve already talked about Stalik Khankishiev a few times, most recently here. In this video, Our Stalik demonstrates an interesting idea. Summer’s coming to an end, you’ve braved the heat wave and the thunderstorms to make kebabs more times than you care to remember — seriously, who thought summer was the best season for grilling? Your ungrateful guests are getting tired of eating the same meat kebabs all the time, and yet the grill demands to be used. Enter the shashlyk “Five Fingers” — a massive display of the most succulent cuts of lamb to be remembered! (By the way, if you know Russian, Stalik has an interesting blog.)

This Azerbaijani dish owes its name to the fact that the meat is skewered on five skewers, arranged in a fanning effect like five fingers. You can also make a slightly smaller version with only 3 skewers, but then you’d have to adapt the name, avoiding dubious un-PC jokes involving disabilities. You could also skip the bravado and use the marinade recipe to make a delicious one-skewer kebab — and still use lamb chops and/or leg of lamb.

So while the idea stemmed from Mr. Khankishiev’s recipe (recipes, in fact, as he gives several versions of the same dish in different sources), I made many changes of my own. The wine-rich lamb stock makes a great marinade without giving an unpleasant winy taste to the meat. The leg and chops are my two favorite cut of lamb, and they contain the perfect amount of fat, with the rib bones providing the anchor necessary for the whole shashlyk to hold together. The result is pictured below with simple grilled vegetables, but try my cheese and charred eggplant purée, or watch my blog for some new and exciting idea coming soon.

Unfortunately, the pictures didn’t come out nearly as well as I wanted. Our afternoon that day was interrupted by a thunderstorm, and I had cook the kebabs, take photographs, and protect everything including myself from the rain at the same time. I promise you the dish tasted way better than it looks in this post. If all you want is pretty, you can always check out for orange juice recipes (I didn’t know one needed a recipe for orange juice; well, guess what? there’s 185 of them!) and a whopping 6,002 cupcake recipes, or for exclusives such as the homemade lemon-flavored water.

Azerbaijan Cuisine - Shashlyk Five Fingers

Lamb stock
Yields 8 servings

2 lb lamb bones
1 oz olive oil
8 oz peeled carrots, large dice
1 rosemary sprig
black pepper, ground
20 oz red wine

  • Sauté the lamb bones with the olive oil in a pressure cooker without the lid. Add the carrots and rosemary, season with salt and pepper, and stir for a minute. Add the red wine, bring to a boil, and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Cover with a lid, bring to pressure, and cook for 1 hour. Let cool.
  • Strain the stock and refrigerate. When set, remove the fat from the top (you can refrigerate or freeze it for other recipes).

Marinated meat
Yields about 8 servings

lamb stock
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp piment d’espelette
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
16 lamb chops (about 58 oz)
56 oz boned leg of lamb
20 oz sliced onion
2 sliced garlic cloves

  • Mix the lamb stock, coriander, cumin, piment d’espelette, turmeric, and cardamom in a blender.
  • Cut the lamb chops into 8 double chops. Cut the leg of lamb into approximately eight strips 6″-8″ long and 1.5″-2″ thick — look at the pictures and instructions below to get a better understanding of how these cuts will be used. Place the meat, onion, and garlic in sous-vide pouches, distribute the marinade evenly, and vacuum-seal. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours (48 hours is better).

Shashlyk Five Fingers
Yields about 8 servings (2 x 5 fingers)

marinated meat
about 2 oz breadcrumbs

  • Take the meat out of the sous-vide pouches, pat dry with paper towels, and  generously season with salt on all sides — the difference between good and great grilled meat often resides in the amount of salt.
  • Skewer two double chops top-to-tail, as shown in Picture 1 below. You do this by first arranging your skewers in a fanning effect so that the width at the base more or less matches the width of the lamb chops. Then you insert the skewers one by one right between the 2 rib bones of each double chop. It’s actually much easier to do than it is to explain.
  • Push the chops back up towards the tips of the skewers — this will help to keep the skewers from spreading too far apart — and add two strips of leg of lamb, as shown in Picture 2. If your strips aren’t wide enough, just use more than two. (You’ll notice I have two images numbered “Picture 2.” One is just a closer view of the other.)

Azerbaijan Cuisine - Shashlyk Five Fingers

  • Repeat with two more double chops and two more leg strips to get something that looks like Picture 3 below.
  • Make another “Five Fingers” the same way. The whole process takes quite a while, so plan ahead! Maybe start your fire (see below) before the skewering business…

Azerbaijan Cuisine - Shashlyk Five Fingers

  • Prepare a large fire in a mangal using wood chips, and wait until all the flames have died and the coals have turned white (more details here). Place all ten fingers on the grill, and cook until golden brown, flipping every time the meat gets a shade darker. Remove from the grill, sprinkle both sides with breadcrumbs, and let rest for 15-20 minutes. This is a good time to par-cook some vegetables, so you’ll just have to finish them during the meat’s final rest.
  • Return the meat to the grill, still turning the skewers frequently, and cook to the desired doneness — the best way to assess that is to use a meat thermometer. I like my lamb shashlyk medium-rare, so I take off the grill at about 130 F. Let rest for about 10 minutes; you’ll see that the internal temperature will rise by another 5 degrees or so.
  • Remove the meat from the skewers using a fork, and serve.

Azerbaijan Cuisine - Shashlyk Five Fingers

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1 comment

Skirt Steak and Eggplant Shashlyk | Food Perestroika September 12, 2013 - 23:07

[…] can only eat so many burgers and hot dogs in your life. Last year, I blogged about Stalik’s Shashlyk Five Fingers. This time, here’s a shashlyk that’s less intimidating and simpler to prepare, made of […]


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