Friday, May 22, 2009

I had a craving

Tonight's Menu

  • lamb kofta kebabs w/minted yogurt
  • za'atar bread
  • marinated red onions and cherry tomatoes
We've been eating a lot of lamb lately, owing in part to the fact that the new farmers market that just opened in my neighborhood (yay!) has a vendor that sells local, pastured lamb in a variety of cuts. I like to load the ground lamb with spices and make little meatballs out of it, but tonight I had a craving for lamb on the grill. Kofta kebabs were just the ticket!

Bear with me, because as usual I don't have an actual recipe, but I can tell you what I did. First, I stuck a heel of stale bread into the food processor and whizzed it up until I had fresh bread crumbs. I was afraid dry crumbs would make the meat too crumbly. To the bread crumbs, I added some chopped fresh parsley, kosher salt, garam masala, chili powder, paprika and grated onion (fresh onion, not dried -- just peel it and run it over the large holes of a box grater). I also ran a good-sized garlic clove over my microplane zester (love this tip -- no need to peel the garlic!) and added that as well. I pulsed it for a bit to blend the ingredients, then added a pound of ground lamb and one large egg. Whiz it around until it's all combined, then form the meat into sort of oblong sausagey shapes and thread a metal skewer through each one (or a soaked bamboo skewer). Then grill them over high heat on well-oiled grates for about 4-5 minutes per side or until done through.

The yogurt sauce was easy -- just mix some greek-style yogurt with chopped fresh mint, a tiny bit of lemon juice, and a tiny bit of minced garlic. It makes a nice accompaniment to the meat.

I have made za'atar bread before. We all love this as an alternative to focaccia, and again, it went so nicely with the flavors of the meat.

For the little marinated salad I served alongside, all I did was cut a red onion in half lengthwise and then slice it VERY thinly crosswise, dumping the little onion slivers into a non-reactive bowl. I added halved cherry tomatoes (actually, I think these were grape tomatoes, but it doesn't matter) along with some chopped fresh parsley and oregano. Then I mixed some red wine vinegar with a TINY bit of sugar and a small amount of EVOO (use more vinegar than oil), poured that over the onions and tomatoes, seasoned with a bit of kosher salt, and tossed it all together. I just let this sit on the countertop at room temperature while I made the rest of the meal. It was very refreshing!

This whole meal was freaking fantastic, if I do say so myself! I had such a craving for something Middle Eastern or Mediterranean and this was perfect. The lamb kofta reminded me very much of a Romanian dish called mici, and I am half convinced that my occasional craving for spiced meat on the grill is an ancestral memory of some kind (I am one-eighth Romanian on my Dad's side). Every now and then, I need a little garlic and paprika in my life, you know?

Here's my suggested timeline for this meal. This is not exactly the one I followed, but it's the one I WOULD follow when I made this again.
  • Earlier in the day, make the minted yogurt and stick it in the fridge.
  • Also earlier in the day, make the meat mixture and put it in the fridge. It's easier to work with when it's cold.
  • About an hour before serving time, make the marinated onions and tomatoes and let them sit on the countertop while you do the rest.
  • About 40 minutes before serving time, prepare the za'atar bread (it has to rest for 20 minutes while the oven gets hot, then it cooks for 15 minutes or so).
  • About 20 minutes before serving time, light the grill and put the meat on skewers while it heats.
  • Put the za'atar bread in the oven.
  • Put the meat on the grill. Turn after 4-5 minutes.
  • Take the meat off the grill and the bread out of the oven.
  • Slide the meat off the skewers so no one ends up in the emergency room (I speak from experience with metal skewers, here -- those suckers get HOT).
  • Slice the bread into wedges, pull the yogurt out of the fridge, give the salad another toss and serve it all up!

1 comment:

leslie said...

O.k. - the za'atar finally got me - I'm off to Amazon to buy the book :) That sounds incredibly delicious.