15 July 2013

Lamb Kebabs with Pistachios and Herbs


"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern." - Annie Dillard

I bookmarked that quote to share here a few weeks ago, and have come back to it today only to realize how much it resonates with me. I am a person who likes order and schedules and routine, I'm creative too, but I function better and think more freely when life's details are a bit more regulated. Planning meals, organizing my closet, streamlining the little things of life.


Admittedly, this has nothing to do with lamb pistachio kebabs. And, it doesn't really matter, because don't pistachio kebabs sounds delicious? Yes, yes they do. It has been well-documented that I have a great love for the ground meat kebabs of Syria and Turkey, one of my favorites being the classic Aleppo Kebab. This variation is new to me, and I love the unique yet totally Levantine idea of grinding pistachios and herbs in with your ground meat. There are a lot of ingredients here, but the process is super simple. I plop all the seasonings into a food processor, give it a whirl, and then knead it into the ground lamb mixture. This is certainly not the most traditional way to make these, but it works just as well.

Like all ground kebabs, presentation is important! I serve these with yogurt drizzled over top, and some more tomatoes and herbs sprinkled over.

P.S. Fun facts about Algeria, ground lamb is totally uncommon here. I usually have to get a large piece of lamb ground for me at the butcher. As a bonus, since I pay for the price of the bone-in cut of lamb, he gives me the bones in a bag. I then roast the bones and use them to make stock.


Lamb Pistachio Kebabs
If you don't want to form kebabs, these also make delicious lamb burgers. A set of wide flat metal skewers are best for forming the kebabs. 

1/2 cup pistachios
2 tbl water
1/2 cup chopped parsley (set aside 1 pinch for serving)
1/2 cup chopped mint (set aside 1 pinch for serving)
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
1 small chili pepper, seeded and stemmed
1 small pinch allspice
1 regular pinch cinnamon
3 garlic cloves chopped
2 scallions (white and gren parts), roughly chopped
1/2 an onion, roughly chopped
salt, pepper, to taste
1 lb ground lamb
1/4 cup finest grade bulgur
for serving:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tomato, seeded and diced
herbs as reserved above
pinch of sumac, if available

1. Soak the bulgur in 1/2 cup hot water for about 10 minutes.
2. Place pistachios and water in a food processor and process to a coarse puree, there should still be some pistachios chunks. Add the next 9 ingredients to the processor (parsley through onion). Process the mixture until well combined, pausing a few times to scrape down the sides.
3. Place the ground lamb in a bowl and season very generously with salt and pepper. Add the herb-pistachio mixture to the bowl with the lamb. Drain off any excess liquid from the bulgur and add it to the bowl. Knead the lamb mixture together, working the meat with your hands until it is well combined and has a smooth sticky consistency, about 4-5 minutes.
4. Use your hands to form the meat onto the kebabs. (There is a nice tutorial here). Refrigerate the kebabs for at least one hour.
5. Preheat a grill. Grill the kebabs over a very hot grill until nicely charred and done on both sides. Transfer kebabs to a platter, drizzle yogurt over, and sprinkle tomato, herbs, and sumac over top. Serve.

No comments: