Sunday, October 12, 2008
Grilling in October: Yogurt Marinated Lamb Kabobs
In New York, we have a lot to be thankful for. We walk everywhere, and there's a great public transportation system. We have fabulous restaurants and theater and art, great places to shop, and interesting people all around us. What we don't have is cheap space, and we pay dearly for the closet-sized apartments we cram ourselves into. I am fully aware that it's ridiculous. That said, the little closet that Matt and I share is pretty fabulous. We even have a little balcony with a miniature baby grill (almost the same size as the portable stoves I used to take camping in Oregon.) Trying to use up the last of the propane before winter, we devised a grilled meal that was definitely worth repeating. After a week or so of flubs, disappointments, and bloopers in the kitchen, this dinner was so delicious Matt couldn't help but swear between bites.
The butcher at Whole Foods deserves much of the credit—he recommended boneless leg of lamb for the kabobs, and even sliced them to the correct size for me. All I had to do was thread them onto the skewers, marinade, and grill!
Two hours before dinnertime, I picked a few handfuls of oregano and mint from the struggling plants on the balcony. (That mint is really a fighter, though. It lasted through last winter and I expect it'll make it through this one, too.) I ground the oregano in a mortar and pestle with curry powder, a few cloves of garlic, salt, and za'atar, a middle eastern spice blend that includes sumac and sesame seeds. Mixed with yogurt, a squeeze of spicy Sriracha, and a little splash of olive oil, this made the perfect marinade for the lamb.
Meanwhile, I stirred some nonfat Greek yogurt into crumbled feta with the mint to create a sauce, adding lemon juice and zest to brighten it up a little. Not only was this perfect for the lamb, it also was shockingly delicious spread on the Honey-Garlic Grilled Eggplant we made as an accompaniment. (Recipe here.)
It's getting dark earlier now, but fall in New York is beautiful—perfect, really—and it's worth taking a moment to sit outside before it's time to dig in the back of our tiny closets for our scarves and earmuffs. Might as well turn on the grill while you're at it.
Yogurt Marinated Lamb Kabobs
Serves 3, or 2 with leftovers for lunch
1 1/4 pounds boneless leg of lamb, cut into cubes
2 cloves garlic, smashed
pinch kosher salt
1 T fresh oregano
1 teaspoon za'atar, divided
pinch curry powder
1 individual serving container plain nonfat yogurt
glug of olive oil
squeeze of Sriracha
Thread lamb onto metal (or soaked bamboo) skewers and place in a nonreactive pan. In a mortar and pestle, grind garlic and salt to a paste with fresh oregano. Add 1/2 tsp za'atar and curry poweder and blend. Mix in yogurt, oil, and sriracha and spread onto lamb, massaging it in between chunks and on all sides. Sprinkle remaining za'atar over the top and refrigerate two hours. Grill to desired doneness, do not over cook. Serve with Lemony Yogurt Feta sauce and Honey Garlic Grilled Eggplant.
Lemony Yogurt Feta Sauce
1/3 cup feta, cut or crumbled roughly
1 individual-serving container nonfat Greek yogurt, such as Fage
1 T fresh mint leaves, chopped
juice and zest of half a lemon
Mix all ingredients in order, breaking up feta until smoothly combined.