The idea of cutting branches of rosemary for skewers must certainly have occurred to humans soon after they figured out how to build fires. Rosemary grows as a large, hardy shrub throughout the Mediterranean and places with similar climates. Figs grow in these same climates by the zillions. And it didn’t take Escoffier to figure this one out: figs are good—no fabulous—when grilled. Grill the lamb and the figs separately, since the lamb will take a little longer to cook than the figs.
Start a charcoal or wood fire or heat a gas grill; the fire should be moderately hot. Thread the lamb and figs onto the rosemary branches, three or four chunks or figs per skewer. Do not mix meat and figs on same skewer.
Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the lemon juice, garlic and minced rosemary and brush a little of this mixture on the lamb and figs.
Grill, turning the skewers as each side browns and taking care to avoid flare-ups; total cooking time should be from 6 to 10 minutes for medium-rare meat, and 4 or 5 minutes for figs. The meat will become slightly more done after you remove it from grill, so take this into account.
Photo: Evan Sung
July 16, 2008: “The Minimalist: The Tasty Twig, a Barbecue Tradition,” by Mark Bittman