Listen. We are going to form and skewer and grill and eat meat dicks. There’s just no way of obscuring this, so let’s deal with it right here and now.
I wouldn’t try to talk you into this if the meat dicks themselves weren’t just outrageously delicious. They are kabobs, but they are made of ground meat, and they’re stuffed and seasoned with good aromatics and bold spices and then cooked over a hot fire. They have everything you could possibly like about a meat ball, and they are charred and smoky from laying over hot charcoal. And, yes, they are shaped like dicks. There is a good reason for this.
When you lay a thing on a hot cooking surface, the first thing that cooks is the part of the thing touching the heat. The heat travels up from the surface and cooks through the thing. If the thing you are cooking is unevenly thick, where it is thicker it will take longer to cook, and so you are faced with either overcooking the thin part or undercooking the thick part. This is why you should not try to grill a meat isosceles triangle. The good news is, dicks are, for the most part, cylindrical. The person who first noticed this probably was not thinking about cooking his dick over a fire, but the observation has given us the great and delicious skewered meat dick, and that is a boon to civilization, one way or another.
It gets hairy, though, when you tell someone you’re gonna grill up some meat dicks. Probably this is why many of you have never grilled up meat dicks at your family cookouts. The Italians get to have their meat balls, and the prison industrial complex gets to have its meat loaf, but whenever you try to serve your guests a skewered meat dick, some asshole social justice warrior waves around a piece of paper saying you’re not allowed within 500 feet of an elementary school. And I don’t mind saying: it’s hypocrisy like that that undermines the moral stature of this great nation.
And, too, where does this prudishness leave the delicious meat dick? Wandering the wilderness, shunned not because it’s bad to eat or complicated to make—it is the opposite of these things—and not even because it is unmistakably a skewered meat dick, but because we aren’t prepared to put aside our squeamishness at the sight of an impaled meat dick set over red-hot coals, and enjoy what is good. This isn’t the meat dick’s failure—this is our failure.
I’m going to propose something: Holding aside, for the moment, the troubling appearance of the skewered meat dick, it’s possible part of the reason it hasn’t exactly caught on as a culinary staple is simple branding. Take, for example, the standby cookout staple, the bun dick. Problematic! And yet bun dicks are eaten by everyone, all the time, even children. Why, you don’t ask, but I’m answering anyway? Because someone had the idea to call bun dicks “hot dogs.” They are manifestly not dogs. And if they were dogs, cooked over a hot fire and eaten in a bun with mustard and relish, it would be awfully on-the-nose to call them “hot dogs.”
The brilliance of “hot dogs” is that it references nothing, as far as anyone is concerned. It’s just an abstract collection of syllables that makes the bun dick palatable as a celebratory foodstuff, and not the subject of a David Lynch dream sequence.
So! When you make the meat dicks, you will call them something other than “meat dicks.” Here are three suggestions:
1. Kofta. Kofta kebabs are like underdeveloped meat dicks, and are found in the cuisines of several eastern Mediterranean cultures. If your meat dicks are squat and girthy, you will be able to credibly refer to them as kofta kebabs, even though they are just diminutive meat dicks.
2. Koobideh. Koobideh kebabs are like long, proud meat dicks, and are found in Iranian and other Middle-Eastern cuisines. If your meat dicks hang low, you can call them koobideh kebabs, and people will stand in awe of your impressive meat dicks.
3. Ground meat skewer/kabob. This is an unimpressive name, but it has the benefit of not explicitly referencing the skewered-meat-dick nature of the meat dick. The down side is, it will be obvious that you are calling your kabobs this hyper-specific, multisyllabic name in order to avoid calling them “meat dicks.”
The basic instructions will be the same, whatever you choose to call the meat dicks: you are going to mix some meat with some aromatics and herbs and spices; then you are going to form meat dicks; then you are going to impale the meat dicks lengthwise (right down the urethra); finally, you are going to lay the meat dicks over a hot fire and cook them.
So, lets make a mixture. For meat, I like to use a combination of half 80/20 beef and half lamb. Beef is good and fatty and iron-y, and lamb is a little gamey and a little sweet. If lamb’s not your bag, you can go all beef, or you can go beef and pork. Whatever you choose, get a couple of pounds of ground meat into a big mixing bowl.
Into this mixing bowl you are going to add some aromatics. Go for the old standbys, garlic and onion. Finely chop some garlic, chop up a big yellow onion, and get this stuff into the bowl with the meat. If you want your meat dicks chunky and texturally interesting, give the onions a coarse chop, or even a French cut. If you’d prefer the taste but not the flavor of onions, go for a finer chop.
Next, add some herbs. For sure you should use parsley. If you went with lamb, mint would be a classic choice. Cilantro would also be fine, as would dill. As with the aromatics, if you like a chunky meat dick, go for a coarse chop.
Now. I happen to think pine nuts are the jam. Maybe you disagree? Fuck you, this is my recipe. Toast some pine nuts, pound ‘em until they’re coarsely broken, and dump a handful into the bowl.
Time to season the meat. Add a couple pinches of salt. Beyond that, you are free to get just as creative as your spice rack is overstuffed with dusty monuments to your culinary ambition. Cinnamon? Sure. Allspice? Sure. Turmeric? Sure. Cayenne? Sure. Chocolate sprinkles? No. Dammit.
I like to go cayenne, turmeric, and sumac. Sumac is great, but you will probably have to leave the state to find some. I highly recommend it, not just for this recipe, but for any kabobs you ever make, and it will be worth venturing to Crunchy Aunt Mabel’s Rooty-Tooty Organic Market in order to find some. Add it conservatively—unlike the rest of your spices, sumac will be good and delicious as something you sprinkle over the finished product, so start with one healthy dash in the bowl, and keep the spice jar nearby when you finally serve the meat dicks.
You’re about ready to dig in and mix this stuff, but before you do, drop an egg in there. This’ll help bind it all together. And now, roll up your sleeves, wash your filthy mitts, and then dig them into the bowl and hand-mix this shit. Do this as you would meatballs: with the minimum amount of violence needed to incorporate all the ingredients. Too much violence, and your cooked meat dicks will have the density of plutonium, and no one likes a radioactive meat dick.
Once everything is incorporated, reach in there, grab up a big handful of mixture, and form it into a dick. Resist the urge to do this by making a short, fat, soda-can-shaped meat dick and rolling it between your hands like Play-Doh. Use your fingers, which are nimble and articulate, and pull and push and massage the meat dick until it is just as long and thick as a healthy, vaguely intimidating meat dick ought to be. There. Meat dick. Set it aside on a cookie sheet or cutting board. Do that a few more times, until all the meat has been made into meat dicks. Don’t worry if they aren’t uniform in shape or length—the most important thing is that they all have roughly the same girth, so that they will cook together in about the same amount of time.
If you’re using a charcoal grill, go ahead and get a hot charcoal fire going in there. It’ll take a few minutes to get good and hot, and you’re going to use that time to impale the meat dicks lengthwise on skewers, and then brush or rub or drizzle them with oil. Use whatever oil—it’s there to help keep the meat dicks from sticking to the grill, so whatever you’ve got on hand is fine.
Cooking these babies is a breeze. Lay each one down on the grill perpendicular to the grate, right over the hottest part of the fire. Meat goes through three stages when you cook it on a hot surface: first, it sticks to the goddamn surface and will crumble to bits if you try to move it; next, as the meat sears, it will magically unstick, so that you can cleanly yank it off the heat without obliterating it and ruining literally everything; finally, as it burns to a cinder, it sticks to the surface again, and becomes that layer of blackened char you have neglected to scrape off your grill for nine years. So! Armed with this knowledge, our goal is to leave the meat dicks completely alone for long enough for them to sear on the grill side. Once they are seared, you will be able to move them without shredding them all to shit, but you should have a spatula handy anyway, because this is easy to fuck up, and if there is a thing that is easy to fuck up, you and I are sure to fuck it up.
Turn them once, sear them on the other side, and then haul them off of the heat and onto a platter. Voilà. Fully cooked, totally delicious meat dicks—rich and meaty and fatty and wildly aromatic, everything you could ever want in a kabob shaped like a boner.
Serve these as you would any other damn kabob: some good flatbread or naan you threw on the grill for a couple seconds; some hot rice; some grilled veggies or a simple salad; a quick little herby yogurt sauce (or just some plain yogurt). Because the meat dicks are kabobs, some of what is great about them is what is great about all kabobs: they are hot and juicy and fresh off the grill. Because they are made of ground meat and stuffed with spices and aromatics, they will be richer and more texturally interesting than all other kabobs, and they will bleed fat all over and into your rice and bread and make everything so outrageously good to eat.
Some people are certain to blanch when they are told you are grilling meat dicks. Go ahead and call the meat dicks koobideh, or kofta, or ground meat skewers. This will make it easier for people to eat them, and that will be a win for everyone. Possibly some people will recoil when they see the uncooked, skewered meat dicks on your cutting board. Just wait—absolutely nobody will do anything but drool and feast when they smell and taste the finished product. Nice job.
Chris Thompson lives in Virginia, hate-loves and writes about the Wizards, and spends too much of his meager income on meals out. He’s also written for Gawker,Vice Sports, and The Classical, and can be found on Twitter @MadBastardsAll. Check the Foodspin archive here.