Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Yogurt Marinated Lamb Kebabs

February 18, 2009

Usually, I feel pretty comfortable saying that my cooking conveys the great love I have for my fiance.  Sadly, this Valentine’s Day meal…well…it probably shouldn’t be the benchmark for my feelings for Jason.  For whatever reason, I modified the recipe too much, and it ended up losing something in translation.  The lamb was tasty, but it was missing a key element–we determined that some acid, perhaps in the form of a simple squeeze of lemon juice over the finished meat, would have taken it to a higher level (and truthfully, I had bought lemon to do just that, but it never made it from the countertop to the dish).  Also, as with most grilling, it likely would have been better on an outdoor grill (as the indoor grill pan just didn’t result in the charring and caramelization that was envisioned in the recipe).  On the plus side, it was perfectly cooked, if I do say so myself.

The cilantro corn cakes served with the lamb…well, those weren’t a rousing success, either (as you can see).  I’ll post the recipe tomorrow, though, as I truly believe they have potential.

  • 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 pounds trimmed boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure chile powder, such as ancho
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt with the water. Add the lamb cubes, toss to coat and refrigerate overnight.

Light a grill (or, in my case, light the burners under a grill pan). Add the chile powder, turmeric, garlic, cayenne and 1 teaspoon of salt to the lamb-yogurt marinade.  Let stand for 10 to 20 minutes.

On each of 6 skewers, thread the lamb cubes and season with salt.  Grill the skewers over moderately high heat, turning, until starting to char all over, about 3 minutes. Continue to grill until medium-rare, about 4 minutes longer. Serve the lamb on or off the skewers.



Recipe: Chicken with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Cheesy Grits

February 17, 2009

In the comments to the previous post, there was some discussion about how long it takes to roast a chicken.  That conversation was pretty timely, as I roasted a chicken the night most of those comments came in.  I got the recipe (and slightly adapted it) from Food and Wine magazine, and I gravitated toward it because a) it was roast chicken, and yum; b) it mentioned pairing it with a brut rose, which I had in the house and absolutely love; and c) it was under the category of “wonderful weeknight” or something like that, implying that it could be made fairly easily after a hard day at the office.

The meal turned out fabulously, but it ended up taking about two hours from start to finish, so I’m not sure I agree on the whole weeknight thing.  But, I would definitely make the dish again.  The bird was about three and a half pounds, and it turned out perfectly moist and flavorful (with a salty, crispy skin).  I didn’t follow any specific recipe for the grits; rather, I just cooked up some quick grits in chicken stock and then added some shredded cheddar, salt, and pepper.  For next time, I’ll cut the amount of onions just a bit, and I’ll double the amount of tomatoes–they were THAT GOOD.

  • 8 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large rosemary sprigs
  • One 3 1/2-pound chicken
  • 2 white onions, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn the tomatoes cut side down and scatter the rosemary around; bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until very soft and starting to brown. Let cool.

Meanwhile, in a roasting pan, rub the chicken all over with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the onion wedges around the chicken, drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken and onions in the upper third of the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 450°. Add the wine to the pan and roast the chicken for about 20 minutes longer, until the onions are well browned and the chicken is golden and the cavity juices run clear. Pour the cavity juices into the pan. Transfer the chicken and onions to a platter; let the chicken rest for 10 minutes.

Set the roasting pan over moderately high heat and add 4 of the tomato halves and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer, scraping up any browned bits and mashing the tomatoes, until reduced by one-third. Strain the jus into a saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Carve the chicken and serve with the tomatoes, onions, tomato jus and grits.  As you can see, I also served with some greens (collard and brussels sprout greens, to be exact), which I merely sauteed in some olive oil and minced garlic.


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