Lamb Kefta, Cucumber, Tomato & Feta Salad and Tzatziki

20 Jan

I got a meat grinder for Christmas and now I wander back and forth in front of the meat counter at the store, looking for things to grind up.  This week it was lamb.  It took all of my will power not to title this post: “Lamb Kefta: Made with House Ground Lamb”.  That would be ridiculous.  True, but ridiculous.

This meal comes together quickly, with minimal time at the stove.  Much of it can be made ahead and gets better when refrigerated for a little.   We are lucky to have a great little Middle Eastern Cafe/Grocery in our neighborhood and we picked up hummus and pita there.

Lamb Kefta

I have made these flavorful little lamb sausages before, but these were the best.  I don’t really have a recipe as much as I can tell you what we did and you can play around with it to suit your tastes. They are traditionally skewered and grilled.  It is January in Philadelphia, we weren’t going outside.  I browned these in a cast iron pan.

We bought a package of lamb shoulder cuts and Martin used his deft carving skills to remove the bones.  He cut the meat into strips and put it in the freezer, along with grinder’s blade and plates.  Grinding everything cold ensures that the fat stays solid.  As meat grinder makes work of the meat it heats up, the heat could melt the fat and melted fat is no good for anyone.  You want the fat in whatever you are cooking, you don’t want it smeared all over the inside of your meat grinder.   We ground the meat, sending three garlic cloves through the blades as well.  The result was roughly one and a half pounds of ground lamb laced with garlic.

I seasoned the lamb very generously with salt and black pepper, all-spice, ground cumin, sumac and the zest of one orange.  I added a handful each of parsley, cilantro and scallions.  I mixed it gently but thoroughly by hand and formed little oblong sausages.

The kefta was browned in a tiny bit of olive oil until golden on all sides and cooked through.  Approximately 7-10 minutes.

We ate it with tzatziki, hummus, a cucumber salad and pita.

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

3/4 of a large cucumber, peeled and diced*

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup feta

2 tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped

Zest  and juice of 1 lemon

Olive Oil

Red Wine Vinegar

Salt and Pepper

Combine the cucumber, tomato, feta and parsley in a medium bowl. Dress the salad with the lemon zest and lemon juice, a teaspoon of red wine vinegar and drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil and toss.  Taste and adjust according to taste.   Season with Salt and Pepper.

Tzatziki

4 oz greek yogurt

1 clove of garlic

1/2 a cucumber, peeled and diced*

1 lemon, zest and juice

Salt

2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, diced

Using a micro-plane or box grater, grate the garlic glove into the yogurt.  Mix remaining ingredients together.  Season with salt.  The raw garlic gives it a kick, you can add addition black pepper if you would like.

* Cucumbers have a lot of water in them, water that is brought out by salt.  If you are going to make these dishes ahead I have a little trick for you.  Dice the cucumber and very lightly salt it.  Toss and put into a mesh strainer over a bowl.  The salt will draw out excess water.  Add the cucumber to your salad and tzatziki, keep in mind that you will need less salt in the dish.

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