24 July 2011
I was thinking I wanted to get a good summer grilling recipe up here, but the ones that came to mind--my favorite Aleppo-style kebabs with the spicy tomato sauce, and the kebabs with the sour cherries, well I've already told you about them. And then I thought, of course, Adana kebabs!
Now, there are all kinds of kebabs named for different regions of Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey - Urfa kebabs, Sulimaniya kebabs, Iskander kebabs, and I admit I've always been a bit fuzzy about what all these regional distinctions specify. But Adana kebabs, named for the Southern Turkish city in the region of Anatolia, are the most popular of all and you're likely to find them at many Middle Eastern places in the U.S. and Europe. My friend Adam likes to tell a joke about one time he ordered Adana kebabs in a restaurant, and the older Turkish waiter said, "you know in Adana, we just call it 'kebab.' " This joke only works when told with a thick Turkish accent.
Adana kebabs are made of ground meat (lamb or beef) heavily seasoned with spicy chili. The meat is molded around a thick flat skewer, and Adana kebab is almost always served over flat bread with grilled spicy peppers and tomatoes on top or alongside of the meat. Remember the pide bread we talked about a few weeks ago? Here's where you want to use it.
The number one rule to making Adana kebab is season, season, season, and then... season some more. Ground meat can take a lot of seasoning (the same applies when making burgers, and if you think about it, this is really like a burger on a stick). And you want these kebabs to be spicy. You want rich fatty ground meat, something to make the grill flare up and give the meat a nice char. Other than that it's pretty simple- grilled ground meat, grilled vegetables, bread soaked with the meat juices. An easy summer meal.
It is important that you do not use lean meat- you may have to ask your butcher to grind a fattier cut for you, or you can add in fat (like chilled butter or preserved lamb fat). Whatever types of dried or fresh chilis you use, it is only important that they are spicy!
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb or beef, preferably 80% lean
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper OR 4 small Thai bird chilis, ground to a paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
salt to taste
plum tomatoes, peppers, for grilling
pide bread, chopped parsley, and sumac, for serving
1. Knead together the meat with the seasonings until well combined and sticky. Chill one hour. Form the mixture around kebab sticks (preferably flat ones) making one long oblong kebab, or several smaller oblong oval shapes.
2. Prepare your grill. Thread the plum tomatoes and peppers on skewers for grilling if using.
3. Grill the kebabs over the flame. Place the tomatoes and peppers just to the side of the kebabs, slightly off the direct flame. Beware, the kebabs will flare up, that is desired. Grill until nicely browned on both sides.
4. Immediately place kebabs over pide bread. Place grilled vegetables on the side. Garnish with chopped parsley and sumac. Serve.