The aroma of fresh mint and spices permeates this bright, turmeric-painted pulao made with basmati rice and ground lamb. This recipe, which has origins in the ground meat pulaos of India, is quite flexible and open to additions: a handful of fresh dill, a generous sprinkling of fried peanuts or other nuts, or crispy, fried onions tossed in just before serving.
It also works well if you substitute beef for the lamb, and really needs no sides, except maybe some raita, creamy plain yogurt or a salad. And we did just that, a simple side salad completed our meal.
We had plenty leftover with only the two of us for dinner. The extras were refrigerated and a day later reheated and enjoyed for lunch.
1 tsp. ghee, unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 ½ tsp. garam masala
½ tsp. red chile powder
½ tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. lime juice
½ tsp. ground turmeric
1 bunch scallions (about 6), trimmed and thinly sliced
¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
Check the rice and discard any debris. Place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under running water until the water runs clear. Place the rice in a bowl, cover with water by 1 inch, and soak for 30 minutes.
As the rice soaks, cook the lamb: Place a medium saucepan with a heavy lid or a Dutch oven over medium heat. When the saucepan is hot, break the lamb into chunks, and cook until the fat renders, about 2 minutes. Drain most of the fat, leaving behind 1 to 2 tablespoons, and continue to cook the lamb until it browns, another 2 minutes.
Add the ghee and heat over medium until it melts, 30 to 45 seconds. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute.
Add the garam masala, chile powder, black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt and sauté until the spices are fragrant, 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon lime juice and stir until the flavors come together, about 1 minute.
Transfer the lamb mixture to a large bowl and keep warm. (To do so, you could transfer it to a 250-degree oven.) Clean the saucepan and wipe dry.
Drain the soaked rice. Add to the same saucepan and cover with water by 1 inch. Stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice, the turmeric and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover, and reduce heat to simmer until the rice absorbs all the water, about 10 minutes. (Do not stir the rice as it cooks, or the grains might break.) Remove the saucepan from heat, and let sit, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Stir the rice into the cooked lamb mixture, then drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice. Fold the scallions and mint into the rice, and serve immediately.
Lamb and Veggie Kebabs with an adventurous marinade consisting of onions, garlic, and trio of warm spices give the skewers a bold Middle Eastern flavor that is bound to grab your attention.
When marinating lamb, no need to be shy with flavors that will compliment its rich and assertive flavor. But it is equally important to use a marinade that will also help tenderize the meat while imparting character. This is especially true if you are using lamb shoulder or boneless leg of lamb as opposed to lamb loin fillet, which is more tender.
To make the marinade, combine onion, garlic, spices, fresh parsley, olive oil and lemon juice and zest in a food processor. Blitz until everything is well-incorporated and you have a thick onion mixture.
Because the veggies and meat require varying cooking times, I divide them into 3 categories—and 3 ziploc bags. First the meat cubes, then the tomatoes and mushroom caps, and finally the red onion and bell pepper pieces which take the longest to cook. Refrigerate all three bags for up to 2 hours. As the grill heats, thread metal skewers with the bag contents.
We served our skewers over a bed of tri-colored couscous, but if your counting carbs, gluten-free, or following a keto-friendly diet, you may want to skip it. Add lemon wedges for serving.
recipe title=”Mediterranean Lamb and Veggie Skewers” servings=”4-6″ time=”40 min + marinating time” difficulty=”easy”]
2 lbs. boneless leg of lamb
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 lb. cherry (cocktail) tomatoes
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed
1 yellow, 1 orange bell pepper, cut into 8 chucks each
1 red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges, root intact
Lemon wedges, for serving
For the Marinade
2 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
10 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cardamom
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
2⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Cut the lamb into 1 to 1 ½ -inch cubes or pieces and put them in a large ziploc. Season with kosher salt and black pepper.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, combine the onion, garlic, spices, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice and zest. Cover and run the processor until everything is finely chopped (you should end up with a thick onion marinade).
Divide the mixture into three equal portions and pour the first over the lamb and mix well to make sure all the lamb is well coated with the marinade. Repeat with the other two bags of veggies.
Cover and refrigerate all 3 bags for up to 2 hours. (If you do not have time, leave the kebabs to marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes).
Brush the grates of a gas grill (or an indoor griddle) with oil and heat.
Shake excess marinade off and thread the lamb pieces on some long metal skewers, allowing a little room between pieces. (Flat metal skewers are best, but wooden skewers soaked in water will also work).
Repeat with the tomatoes and mushroom caps, and then the bell pepper and onion pieces.
Assemble the bell pepper/onion skewers on the hot grill first. After 10 minutes, add the tomato skewers. Turn all skewers every few minutes as they begin to char.
After five minutes more, add the lamb kebabs. Grill over high heat, turning each kabob one-quarter turn every couple minutes, until the meat is browned all over, anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes, depending on how well you like your lamb cooked (5 minutes on our grill produced medium-rare kebabs).
Remove all skewers at the same time. Slide all contents onto a large platter and pass around to each dinner guest. Plate with couscous, if using, and lemon wedges.
A rare cool, rainy Sunday afforded us the opportunity to cook a slow braised dish for a summer dinner. While thumbing through several favorite cookbooks, I happened upon this Roman Braised Beef with Tomatoes and Cloves in Milk Streets “The New Rules” by Courtney Hill.
The “new rule: don’t sear your meat” goes against something we typically do, brown our meat beforehand. But because you cook it uncovered for the last hour or so, the meat will brown at the end of the process.
Pot roast comes to mind with this meal, and in Rome, cloves are used to flavor the dish known as “Garofolato di Manzo alla Romana” because cloves are called chiodi di garofano. Here, the earthy, subtly smoky and slightly bitter flavor of cloves complements the natural sweetness of onion, fennel and tomatoes.
Milk Street advises not to use ground cloves that have gone stale, as they won’t add much flavor or fragrance to the braise. If your cloves have been in the pantry for more than a few months, uncap and take a whiff. The aroma should be sharp and strong. If not, pony up and get a new jar.
Unlike pot roast where you cook the large piece of meat whole, the beef is cut into chunks and simmered as a stew resulting in succulent meat throughout. Polenta is an excellent accompaniment for absorbing the flavorful sauce. In a unique pairing, we wedded the meat with another Milk Street recipe Spanish Green Beans with Ham, Almonds and Smoked Paprika.
This recipe is an adaptation of the remarkably delicious green beans from Extremadura, Spain, home of pimentón, aka Spanish smoked paprika. For perfectly crisp and tender beans, cooking techniques are combined. You start by searing the veggies in a hot pan to develop browning and flavor. Then add water and a tight fitting lid to steam them until tender. Voila!
6-7 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
¾ tsp. ground cloves
kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 oz. pancetta, roughly chopped
6 med. garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 med. yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 med. fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, cored and thinly sliced
28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Place the beef in a large bowl and season with the cloves, 1 tablespoon salt and 2 teaspoons pepper.
In a large Dutch oven over low, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, until sizzling and the fat has begun to render, about 5 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the pieces begin to brown, another 7 minutes.
Add the garlic, onion and fennel, then increase to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and translucent, about 6 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Stir in the beef, then cover, transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours.
Remove the pot from the oven. Stir, then return to the oven uncovered. Cook until a skewer inserted into a piece of beef meets no resistance, another 1 to 1½ hours.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl. With a wide spoon, skim off and discard the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid, then bring to a boil over medium-high, scraping up any browned bits. Cook until the liquid has thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, 10 to 12 minutes.
Stir in the thyme, then return the beef to the pot. Reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is heated through, about 5 minutes.
Spanish Green Beans with Ham, Almonds and Smoked Paprika
First, the almonds. Begin by toasting them in olive oil to deepen their nutty flavor, then add the garlic and thinly sliced serrano ham, cooking the mixture until the meat crisps and the garlic is fragrant. Then remove that mixture from the pan and add the green beans and char them in the flavorful fond left behind.
For the final flourish of smoked paprika, first deglaze the pan with another 1⁄4 cup water, scraping up any remaining flavorful bits, then remove the pan from the burner and stir the spice in off heat. This preserves the paprika’s smoky aroma, resulting in a pan sauce that is as quick as it is deeply smoky-savory.
Don’t stir the beans too often after adding them to the pan. Stirring only a few times allows the beans to take on some char that adds flavor the finished dish. If you’re entertaining more than four people with the braised beef dinner, you’ll want to double this bean recipe.
My mistake here was using a nonstick skillet so the beans didn’t get as good a sear as I wanted. But in the end since there were no browned bits left in the pan, there was no reason to perform Step 5. Instead, I just sprinkled the smoked paprika right onto the finished beans, stirred and served. OMG, so friggin’ good!!
Spanish Green Beans with Ham, Almonds and Smoked Paprika
2 oz. thinly sliced serrano ham or prosciutto, sliced into ¼-inch-wide ribbons
2 med. garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. green beans, trimmed and halved
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
½ tsp. smoked paprika
In a 12-inch skillet (don’t use nonstick) over medium, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the almonds and cook, stirring often, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes.
Add the ham and garlic and cook, stirring, until the ham crisps and the garlic is fragrant, another 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside.
To the same skillet over medium-high, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and heat until smoking. Add the beans and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring only a few times, until the beans are lightly charred, about 4 minutes.
Return the ham-almond mixture to the pan and add ¼ cup water. Cover, reduce to low and cook, occasionally shaking the pan, until the beans are tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish.
Set the skillet over medium-high and add ¼ cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, scraping up the browned bits, until the liquid has reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the paprika. Drizzle the sauce over the beans and serve.