This is the second installment of the Greek inspired recent dishes, which has always been my favorite Greek dish. Pastitsio is often described as a Greek lasagna which is fairly accurate. This was a combination of a few recipes as they all differed quite a bit. Either way, it is not a beginner recipe but it seriously may have been the best thing we have ever made! I even met a new cheese in the process.
Category Archives: Lamb
If you are a fan of Greek food I am pretty sure you will really like this meal. It is relatively easy to prepare and the flavors are intense and extremely satisfying. We made gyro burgers, which were composed of ground beef and lamb as well as some traditional Greek spices. We also prepared homemade tzatziki sauce and a Greek salad of tomato, cucumber, red onion and fete cheese. It all went well together and you could also serve the burgers in a pita or flatbread if you so desired.
I will begin with the tzatziki sauce, which is a traditional sauce served with gyros that is made with yogurt and cucumber and is awesome.
The key ingredient here is mint. Luckily mint grows like weeds and we have plenty growing outside!
I just combined all the ingredients and let it chill in the refrigerator while we prepared the rest of the meal. Below is a pic of the final product. Not only is this a great sauce to put on whatever you please, really, but can also be served as a dip with pita or veggies. It is so good.
Along with the burgers we also prepared a Greek salad. I love this salad, especially in the summer when the vegetables are nice and fresh. It is a great accompaniment to any meat, really, and goes particularly well with the strongly flavored lamb.
Now, on to the burgers! I’ll let the pictures do the talking here….
The meat had a gyro like consistency as you can see below (sorry, it’s a bit blurry) and of course the flavor was right on.
Give this one a try!
You know how when you cook something all day and then when it’s finally ready you don’t take the time to get a good picture? Yeah. That’s what happened here. This also happens to be the smallest of the four lamb shanks we had. Bad picture taking, bad.
In any event, I still wanted to share the recipe, despite the less than desirable way that this photo depicts this meal, because the taste was great and that’s what really counts.
I bought the lamb shanks from the farmer’s market and promptly contacted my dad for a proper recipe. He sent me one from Emeril and it did not disappoint. Greg also made carrots braised in beer and carrot juice, a recipe he tweaked from this one. He added some of his own touches and threw in some broccoli at the end for added veggie power.
To the shanks!
Here they are. There are actually four of them pictured here and they have been sprinkled with cajun seasoning. Emeril calls for “creole seasoning” but I don’t have that in my spice drawer. What I did have though was “cajun” and so we went with that.
I got the dutch oven nice and hot and added some olive oil. When the olive oil was sufficiently hot, I added the shanks to get a nice brown sear on all sides.
Next, I added chopped carrots, onions, and celery to the mix.
Hmmm… what’s missing from this picture? Yeah, the shanks! Guess I didn’t read the recipe well (I looked at a few recipes that day and must have gotten them mixed up) as it says to leave the shanks in when you add the carrots, onions, and celery. Woops.
Next, I added a diced tomato, garlic, wine, stock, thyme and some bay leaves.
Gave it a good stir and look who’s back…. the shanks!
After a frenzied few minutes, it was then time to put the lid on and turn the burner down to low for a long slow simmer.
The shanks braised for nearly two hours.
This is pretty much what they looked like after that time.
The broth or braising liquid was so flavorful. it never did reach a “syrup” like consistency, but it was so good that I considered saving it for something, though I don’t know what. It was amazing though….
To continue with the braising theme, Greg prepped the veggies.
It just would not be a Greg-made dish if onions, garlic and jalapenos were not part of the mix!
The carrots braised in beer and carrot juice and he added a little butter near the end of cooking to make the sauce thicker. The broccoli was a last minute addition.
Despite the fact that the shank looks like a lamb lollipop it was super good! I served it with a small side cup of the braising liquid to dip so each bite had the full effect. The meat was fall off the bone tender and it tasted so fresh and not gamey at all. I am dying to make that mint orzo that Emeril suggests to accompany this with one day. Not only would the flavor and texture be a great match, but it could soak up some of that broth, mmm.
Overall, this recipe was pretty easy to make and once you get it going you can walk away and do other things… so not too labor intensive.
For valentine’s day dinner we decided to make something we don’t eat often and make something that would be a special treat for us. We went with surf and turf, lobster and lamb.
We got two beautiful lobster tails from Harris Teeter.
We did not want to alter the natural flavor of the lobster and decided to steam them and serve them with melted butter for dipping. Greg put a little Old Bay on his, but my lobster tail went au naturale. Both were steamed in water that was infused with Old Bay and vinegar.
Talk about simplicity! Simple food, done well. The “surf” was a great way to kick things off.
Now on to the turf portion of the meal. We bought two racks of lamb from Whole Foods, that were conveniently frenched already. We have made lamb before, but never rack of lamb. We’ve learned that when making lamb at home it’s important to spend a little extra money and buy a nice cut. The cheaper cuts are grizzly and much more gamey in flavor, not good things. We tried two different recipes, so each rack had a different preparation, set of ingredients, and taste. Both sets were first seasoned with salt and pepper before going on their unique paths.
For the first rack we decided to tap into some Greek flavors, involving mint, lemon, and rosemary.
Greg combineded these ingredients with some olive oil to create a marinade.
Before actually baking this rack, we heated a glass dish in the oven for about half an hour. The rack was placed in the hot dish to sear it. Greg brushed on the marinade and baked it for about 15 minutes or so.
We made the second rack in a more traditional French way, using dijon mustard and bread crumbs.
We began by searing the rack in a pan with a little hot oil.
Once it was seared, we coated it with dijon mustard.
The next step was to cover the rack with bread crumbs (which had been mixed with oil).
Once it was well coated, it went back into the pan for the final leg of cooking. We covered the tips with tin foil so they did not burn.
It cooked for a few more minutes in the pan and then it was ready.
We tried both versions and they were both SO good. Very different from one another and it’s hard to say which one was better!
The bread crumb version is in the back, the lemon/rosemary/mint variety in the front.
This was a delicious meal and I love when we make two (or more) versions of things to try them out and then we also to get to eat a nice variety within the same meal. I really loved them both!