ground beef kabobs

it's somewhat of a challenge to make a dish that i'm not actually going to taste. in the case of these ground beef kabobs, my official taste-tester's description and a knife in the chest incited me to recreate them with flavors i could only imagine.
          last time we ate at local restaurant, shiraz, jim gave the grunt-with-eyes-closed-approval for these kabobs and i actually felt a pang of jealousy. he may as well have stabbed me. after a deep breath, i choked out, "i bet i can make those if we can figure out what's in them". so we proceeded to list the ingredients while he continued to wound me with mmmms, uuuumms, and eye wrinkles . . . i think he enjoyed it just a little too much.
          since i don't eat meat, i always rely on jim's approval for the beef dishes i serve, and this time i felt the added heat of a contest. i just had to win him over from the competition. so i couldn't wait to get to the market, to chop, to mix, to sear. i added a reduction to my recipe to give it a moist finish, and served it with a side of feta cheese and cucumbers. 
          ta-da: i set the plate in front of jim, we toasted, "bon app├ętit", and i felt the thrill of suspense while he took the first bite. then, relief. he said they were even better than the ones from shiraz . . . that's my jim: as good a taste-tester as he is a husband.

ingredients (makes 5 large kabobs)
• 1 lb. of ground chuck
• 1/4 onion, minced
• 2-3 tbl. minced yellow, red, or orange bell pepper
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1-2 tbl. parsley, finely chopped
• 2 saffron threads soaked in a few tsp. water for several hours, (optional)
• 1/4 cup safflower oil
• 2-3 tbl. lemon juice
• 1-2 tbl. crushed oregano
• a dash or two of cayenne (substitute chili powder for a milder spice)
• salt and pepper
• 1/3 cup broth or white wine
1. set a cast iron griddle in the top 1/3 of the oven and preheat it to broil.
2. in a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together well.
3. form 1/5 of the mixture around each skewer.
4. open the oven door and carefully set the skewers onto the preheated griddle. 
5. close the oven door and seer for about 1 and 1/2 minutes. turn the skewers and seer the other side for 1 and 1/2 minutes.
5. reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and cook a minute or two more until the centers are just turning brown. set the cooked skewers on a platter.
6. to make the reduction sauce: set the griddle on the stove top and pour on the broth or wine. simmer over a med-low heat until it thickens just a bit.

for the cucumber and feta salad, mix together:
• 1 med. cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, and chopped
• about 3/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese
• sesame seeds
• fresh minced dill

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