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LAMB KOFTE KEBABS WITH SHALLOTS

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    Posted: 19 May 2016 at 14:51
This comes from Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking, and is another Turkish winner.

I did have to make some significant changes, but I don’t think they effect the overall flavor. For starters, it hasn’t stopped raining here. So grilling was out, particularly if I would have had to kick off a fire just to cook the skewers for three minutes. Instead, I slightly flattened the meatballs, into small patties. I fried the shallots in a very little ghee (olive oil would do fine), just enough to coat the pan. Removed them from the skillet, and fried the patties, 1 ½ minutes per side.

You want to do this in a screaming hot pan, so they form a nice crust, but aren’t cooked through.

I imagine there’d be a slight smokiness if they’d been done on the grill, but what can you do?

Had no crème fraiche on hand, so subbed regular sour cream. Those flavors are so close as to make no never mind.

I was concerned about the small quantities of flavorings. I mean a teaspoon each of lemon juice and pomegranate molasses against a pound of meat. But they work out, contributing to, but not overpowering, the lamb.

LAMB KOFTE KEBABS WITH SHALLOTS

1 lb lean ground lamb     
3 tbls crème fraiche
1 garlic clove, crushed     
Salt & pepper
12 large shallots     
1 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbls parsley, chopped     
2 tbls chopped scallion
Warm pita bread

Prepare hot fire or preheat gas grill.

Combine the lamb, crème fraiche, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl or on a wooden surface. Knead by wetting knuckles and pressing down, working the mixture until it is well blended and smooth. Form into 16 sausage shapes.

Peel the shallots and cut them lengthwise in half. Trim the root ends, leaving enough intact to hold the shallots together. Alternately, skewer the lamb kababs and shallot halves onto 4 long metal skewers, pressing meat and shallots firmly.
Brush the meat and shallots with olive oil and grill, turning once, until the lamb and shallots are nicely browned on the outside, about 3 minutes. They will be fairly raw inside. Remove from grill and slide meat and shallots into clay pot, being careful not to break the kababs.

Stir together ¾ teaspoon of the pomegranate molasses, the lemon juice, and 1/3 cup water and add to pot. Cover and cook over medium-low embers or low heat on stovetop, until almost all liquid has been absorbed, 25-30 minutes.

Gently turn the kababs and shallots to glaze with the sauce. Dilute remaining pomegranate molasses with 3 tablespoons water, add to the pot, and continue to turn and baste over medium heat for about 1 minute. Scatter the parsley and scallions on top and serve diecly from the cazuela, with warm pita on the side.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 May 2016 at 01:42
That sounds wonderful Brook.....wish I could afford the lamb.Cry

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 May 2016 at 06:06
I know what you mean, Dave.

Ground lamb, however, is more affordable. At least around here, where the markets sell it for around $6-7/lb, as compared to, say, leg and rack of lamb, which go for as much as $12-14.

Even better, from my point of view: The Halal market in Lexington, which will cut the lamb any way I want it, charges seven bucks, more or less, for any cut. And they don't charge extra for any special butchering.

For example, if you want chops, they normally cut them into the lollipop types. I needed loin chops for a recipe. After spending about ten minutes in discussion about what I was looking for they were able to cut them to order. No charge for the butchering.

On the other hand, beef has gotten so expensive around here that even leg of lamb can seem a bargain. I mean, when flank steak---flank steak, for Pete's sake!---is 12 bucks a pound, you have to wonder how anyone can afford a top cut.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 May 2016 at 06:07
BTW, wouldn't surprise me that this recipe would work just as well with ground beef, or a combo of beef and veal.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 May 2016 at 06:52
      Interesting, I just had some ground lamb kebabs the others day.  When I ordered I was thinking I'd get cut lamb.  Instead I got Mediterranean spiced ground lamb with Raita sauce and olive chutney.  While the kebabs would have been good if it were cut chunks of lamb, I was surprised at how well the ground lamb got the flavors, fat and textures across.

    Using ground beef?  I would imagine it would work just fine, certainly watching that they don't overcook.  I could see changing up the flavors to suit the protein.  Where lamb begs for certain spices, beef can go into other areas as well...heck spiced ground venison kebabs would be great.  I've also been eating a lot of ground chicken and ground turkey.  It's surprising, to me, how much flavor ground turkey and chicken have when not over cooked.  Each seems to have more flavor than todays store bought ground beef.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 May 2016 at 12:16
Hey, Dan. Good to hear from you.

I know what you mean about kebabs. If you read my intro to Ottoman cuisine, you'll find a discussion about kebab, and what it really means. In addition, Turks are crazy about "meatballs" in various forms, including molded on a skewer and cooked that way, usually over charcoal.

I like the sound of the lamb kebabs you had. Sounds very similar to my own Mini Lamb Burgers Afrique, which I usually serve with Tzatziki and a Lebanese olive salad. I believe I've posted the recipe somewhere on these boards.

I only partially agree with you regarding ground fowl. Chicken works for me, as you describe. But no matter what I do to it, ground turkey always seems dry and tasteless.

Friend Wife likes it, though, and uses it to make taco salad fairly often.

On the other hand, I rarely use store-bought ground beef. Instead, I'll buy some chuck and run it through my own grinder. That way I'm sure of what I'm getting.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 May 2016 at 06:45
I was going through the archives, Dan, and found this: http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/lebanese-ground-lamb-skewers_topic2053.html

Wouldn't surprise me that what you had was this dish, or something very similar.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 May 2016 at 08:58
    Could have been, but there was definetly an addition of spices in the lamb...really brought it all together.  It may have been za'tar.  I may end up going to Penzey's today and pick some up...we need a few other things.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 May 2016 at 06:55
Za'tar would work, Dan. But I've been going through my Mid-Eastern cookbooks, and it's more likely straight sumac would be the choice.

Other spices and additions to ground lamb kebabs in the region include allspice, cinnamon, and pine nuts.

Or you can go North African, with that cornucopia of spices: cumin, coriander, ras el hanout, harissa, and so forth.

In short, all sorts of possibilities.

You may have noticed, too, in the discussion at the link, that Chris talks about a combo or ground veal % pork as a replacement for the ground lamb, which is unavailable where he is. While that's not authentic to any Muslim country, it certainly sounds like a nice combo.

Around here, though, veal is like hen's teeth. And incredibly expensive when it can be found.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 May 2016 at 09:50
    Straight sumac is good, I used to always have it on hand.  Where we live now we've got lots of staghorn sumac growing wild.  I always wanted to make my own spice, to have on hand...or to make Indian lemonaid.  But during my research I found out that it's a member of the cashew trees.  My oldest daughter, having a tree nut allergy, I decided I didn't even want to go down that road at all.  We did end up making the Indian Lemonaid over at a friends house.  It was good, refreshing...but it did need a looooong cold steep before it started gathering stronger flavors (we used no sugars or additives).

   I'll have to experiment with different flavors and proteins.  I really think the combinations are limitless.  You can go Korean style ground short ribs, Buffalo Chicken spice with blue cheese dip or some dry rub ground pork with choice of sauce.  I'm thinking recipes centered around the above recipes/ideas would really suit me...but it's certainly adaptable to the people, mood and theme of the day. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 May 2016 at 06:08
I remember the first time I made that lemonaid, Dan. The instructions, which came from Sports Afield, said to use 1 cup of berries. After trying it that way I decided the author had never made it. It took two days longer than forever to strip the berries from the seed heads.

With a little experimenting, however, I found that 8 staghorn seedheads were perfect for one gallon.

I absolutely agree with your thoughts re: ground meat kebabs. Seems to me, we're talking about a technique, rather than a specific recipe. And the possibilities are limitless.

One thing to keep in mind, for those who've never tried it. While we keep saying "meatballs," the fact is they're not, really. Rather, the meat is shaped more like a cigar, so that it holds together on the skewer. A ball shape is too dense to do that, unless they're made very small indeed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 June 2016 at 23:41
Between work, life and preparing some beers for a trip this summer to visit an old friend, I forgot about this post Brook - my apologies!

This one is indeed on my "to try" list - it simply looks too good to pass up. I'm in a similar situation with lamb - we live in sheep country, but you can't find the stuff anywhere in any of the grocery stores. You might find it at the local meat market, but you WILL pay for it. Perhaps beef or even venison would sub well - perhaps I should just spring for the lamb (no pun intended)!

The pomegranate molasses is particularly intriguing. I assume that it can be made by simply boiling down some 100% juice until it is thick? I've done similar with apple, and it was really nice.

Wonderful-looking recipe, my friend! Star
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 June 2016 at 00:43
That's exactly what it is, Ron. Pomegranate juice reduced to a syrup.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 June 2016 at 16:17
    Yeah, I could see using this one, and variations of it, quite often.  The pomegranate molasses sounds really good...I'll keep an eye out...or buy it off Amazon.  

  Thanks Brook
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 June 2016 at 12:14
Have a great trip, Dan.
But we hae meat and we can eat
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