Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer Sweatin'

If you live in the north east, you will know what I mean by this post’s title. Just when I was getting used to the idea of fall, and all the lovely fall flavored things I could start making – Wham! 95°+ with unbearable humidity hits us once again. And after nice cool breezes and earlier sunsets I was dreaming of cinnamon, apples, stews and braises. But all of those dreams were dashed away with this stifling close to summer.

So I changed my thought patterns and picked back up where I left off with summer grilling. I realized Joe and I had not made a lot of the staples we have in summers past. There has been no eggplant for instance this year. Maybe I was waiting for the perfect specimen from the farmer’s market, or maybe I simply overlooked it. There has also been no peach, plum or other stone fruit desserts which makes me feel like I have missed out on something this year.
I have neither a stone fruit dessert nor a grilled eggplant recipe for you today, instead I have lamb. And tzatziki. I love the combination of those two. I did make lamb skewers with yogurt sauce a few weeks ago, but didn’t share the recipe because I didn’t think much of it. In hind sight, however, the yogurt sauce went over well, and these lamb skewers are a bit different.
I had also made these for a friendly food competition last winter while sharing a small kitchen with three other competitors. Although no clear winner was ever determined (at least not to my knowledge) I like some of the reactions I got to this dish. Plus, tzatziki always seems so exotic that it can be a real treat to make at home. I have been hitting the yogurt sauce hard this year - if I could put tzatziki on breakfast cereal I would.
This recipe seems long, but it is really very simple and not too time consuming. They can look a bit phallic if you let them, but if you can overlook that, or reshape the meat to something that is more rated G, then I think you will really enjoy this recipe. Plus, you can get everything ready, then hand it to your grill master and stand in the slightly air conditioned comfort of your kitchen and watch as someone else sweats and cooks for you.

Lamb Koftas
As adapted from Jamie Oliver “Jamie at Home”

This recipe is easily adaptable to what you have on hand. It is important to let the meat rest after you have shaped it onto the skewers, and then to oil them prior to grilling. If you do not want to skewer them, simply shape them into long sausage shapes sans the skewer.

Serve this with pita or other flat bread, or as the topping to a salad as Jamie Oliver suggests in his recipe.

For the koftas
1 ½ lbs. ground lamb (or half lamb and half pork)
½ c. breadcrumbs
¼ c. whole milk
1 egg
½ c. shelled, and crushed pistachios
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. coriander seeds, crushed
½ tsp. fennel seeds
1 Tb fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tb garlic, finely chopped (about one large clove)
2 Tb red onion, finely chopped
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Yogurt Sauce
½ c. plain greek style yogurt
2 tsp. garlic, finely chopped
1 Tb. Red onion, finely chopped
3 Tb. Cucumber, cored, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tb. Fresh mint, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Red Onion garnish (optional)
½ red onion, sliced very thinly
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tb white wine vinegar
Salt to taste

For the Tzatziki
Combine all the ingredients, and let rest in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

For the Red Onions
These make an interesting addition and since you are already chopping onion, I like to throw this is as well. Combine all the ingredients and toss thoroughly. Let stand at room temperature until ready to serve.

For the Koftas
Combine the breadcrumbs with the milk, adding more milk if necessary. You want the consistency to be that of a thick baby cereal. Then add ground lamb, egg, garlic, onion, spices, parsley and lemon zest and work together until everything is mixed well.

Shape the lamb mixture onto skewers into oblong shapes that are roughly equal in size. Once skewered, place into refrigerator to keep cool until ready to cook.

Prepare grill, and oil the rack. Just before cooking the skewers, oil each kofta to keep from sticking. Grill the skewers for about 4 minutes on each side, or until the meat is cooked all the way through.

Serve with warmed pita, fresh parsley, tzatziki, and red onions. Serves about 4.


  1. This looks awesome. We are definitely borrowing this one! (Kim & Jeremy)

  2. how can I make them look MORE phallic???


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