I went through a long phase of not eating any red meat, as I just associated it with being high in fat, high in cholesterol, and just plain bad for you. Fortunately, I don't have the level of influence that Oprah has, as I seem to recall her spending the better part of a year fighting a nasty lawsuit, which was filed against her by the Texas cattle farmers, for voicing that very same opinion during her talk show. Then, a few years ago, I was informed by my doctor that I have an iron deficiency, as many women do, and my options were to either start taking iron supplements or to start incorporating more iron into my diet. I have never been one to pop a vitamin in order to get my nutrients, because I would prefer to get them by eating the right foods, and I had heard that the iron pills cause nausea, so I opted for the eating method.
I could only eat so many roasted beets and bowlfuls of steamed spinach, two foods that contain significant amounts of iron, so I found myself wandering over to the steaks section of the supermarket, intending to check out the nutritional labels. Imagine my surprise to find several cuts that had calorie contents and levels of fat similar to those of chicken, pork, and even certain types of fish! Yes, if you grill up a rib-eye, delicious as they are, you're really not doing your arteries any favors, but if your menu includes boneless sirloin, filet, or even flank steak, prepared correctly, then you will have a heart healthy, iron-rich meal.
Marinated kebabs are one of my favorite ways to serve steak. By marinating the meat for several hours, it becomes juicy and tender on the inside, with a slight char on the outside. Kebabs cook very quickly, and you can tailor each one to each person's preferred level of doneness. This Moroccan-inspired version uses many of the traditional Moroccan spices, such as cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and ginger. Serving the kebabs over a healthy, pistachio-studded couscous makes a complete meal. Here are my tips for this spiced steak supper:
- As noted below, feel free to substitute another meat, such as chicken or lamb, for the beef in this recipe. You can also try a firm fish, such as swordfish or tuna, or you can make the kabobs with shrimp or scallops.
- If you want to alternate some vegetables with the meat on the kebabs, try using pieces of red onion, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, or mushrooms.
- Dried cranberries or fresh pomegranate seeds would be good in place of the golden raisins in the couscous. If using the pomegranate seeds, stir them with the pistachios as opposed to when you boil the chicken stock.
- These kebabs would also be great prepared on an outdoor grill over indirect medium-high heat.
Moroccan Spiced Kebabs with Pistachio Couscous
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds lamb, chicken, or beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cups couscous
1/2 cup toasted pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the olive oil, garlic, salt, cumin, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne. Add your selected meat and marinate, covered and refrigerated for up to 4 hours.
Thread 4-6 skewers with the cubes of meat, reserving the extra marinade. On a non-stick grill pan, over medium-high heat, grill the meat until slightly charred, about 3-4 minutes on each side, brushing with the reserved marinade.
Prepare the couscous: In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock and the raisins to a boil. Add the couscous, remove from the heat, and cover for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the pistachios, and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the kebabs.