Cook N Bake Turkish Series: Doner Kebab

Rometti Limoncello Cook N Bake Turkish Cuisine Doner Kebab

As we already mentioned, vegetables are probably the most common base ingredient in Turkish cuisine. This week, however, we couldn’t ignore the most known turkish dish all around the world: Kebab.

Kebabs are made with casserole meat, stews or even grilled meat. Doner Kebab (“rotating roast“) is extremely popular throughout Europe, but also in some areas of the United States, both as a dine-in dish and, especially, as a take away. It is not uncommon that Doner Kebab is called shawarma, a word originated from the Turkish çevirme which is simply a synonym of doner. A mixture of veal, beef and lamp, Kebab is cooked on a vertical spit and shaved into thin shavings. It is then wrapped in a either a flatbread or a sandwich. Sometimes it can be also served on a plate together with lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber.

Kebab seems to have originated in the 18th century during the Ottoman empire, however back then the spit, called doner, was not vertical but horizontal. The vertical mangal,” barbecue”, according to tradition, is attributed to Hacı İskender, who owned a restaurant in the industrial 19th century Bursa, Turkey, and invented the way of roast vertically as his grandson İskender Efendi states in one of the family biography.
Doner Kebab is not a very easy dish to make at home, however the homemade version is almost as tasty and good as the one made on a vertical slit!

Ingredients:
1 (2 1/2- 3 pound) Lamb Leg (boned & cut in slices)
3 pounds Ground Lamb
3 cups minced Onions
1 large Tomato
1 Egg
1 tbsp Black Pepper Powder
Salt (to taste)
Lamb Fat
1 cup Olive Oil

Remove any bits of skin and bone from the lamb leg. Cut it into serving-size slices, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Pound it with a meat tenderizer or the edge of a heavy saucepan until thin and trim.

Prepare a marinade sauce with onions, olive oil, salt and pepper, and soak the meat in this marinade overnight.

Spread the lamb fat over each piece of the meat, and ground lamb mixed with an egg. Thread pieces of meat on a long skewer, starting with the larger pieces. Trim the chunk of meat on the skewer and add trimmings to the end of the skewer. The tomato is put on the skewer whole at the end.

If you have a Doner Kebab broiler you can let the meat cook while turning and shave it as you go. But if you don’t you can still shape the minced lamb into a loaf tin and cook it on a baking tray  at 356 F for about 1 hour and 20 min, turing it halfway through. When it is done wrap it in aluminum foil and let it rest for about 10 min. Slice it as thin as possible and serve with lettuce, onions, tomato and cucumber, chili if you like, over a pita bread or on a plate.

~Enjoy!

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Cook N Bake Greek Series: Souvlaki

Rometti Cook N Bake Greek Series: SouvlakiAs pre announced last week, this fourth dish of our Greek Series is the Souvlaki! Although usually I like to stick to the original recipe, this time I found a recipe by Jamie Oliver that I couldn’t help but try and find incredibly delicious! And so I am sure you will.

Souvlaki is one of the most popular Greek dishes around the world, very simple to make yet extremely flavorful. To make a Souvlaki all you need is some meat (usually pork, but you can also use chicken) and some vegetables. grilled and savored with salt, pepper, and some herbs (oregano, thyme, mint…). You can also add paprika, mustard, ketchup and add some tzatziki sauce.

Today Souvlaki is often presented as one of the most refined appetizer in many Mediterranean and Greek cuisine restaurants, but in Greece it’s considered a fast food. Yes, you heard me. It’s the simplicity of the dish itself that makes it suitable to be categorized as fast food, in the very sense of the word, however the ingredients (unlike what happens in many fast food chains around the world) are extremely fresh. Grilled and served on a skewer (the word souvlaki in fact means “skewer”) or in a full plate with some pita bread, Souvlaki has been present in the Greek cuisine since the 17th century BC, as some stone sets of barbecue from around that time have been found in the island of Santorini.

If you go to Athens instead of Souvlaki you might find Kalamaki. It’s indeed the same dish but served exclusively on a skewer, and the meat is cut into 1-inch chunks. But be careful! Kalamaki also means “straw” so if you go to the northern part of Greece do not ask for Kalamaki instead of Souvlaki because as a joke to deride the Athenians they would give you a drinking straw!

Souvlaki is a fun dish to accompany a cocktail, enjoy as a snack, or serve as a dinner plate. On top of it, kids love it, especially if served with fried potatoes.

Ingredients (serves 4):

3 Sweet pointed peppers
8 Pita bread
4 Spring of fresh mint
A Small chopped fresh dill
Rometti Red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
1 Lemon to serve
28 oz (800 g) of good quality pork
1 tbsp dried mint
1 tbsp dried oregano
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Cloves of garlic finely grated
Black pepper
Salt

Cut the wooden skewers to fit in your griddle pan and soak them in some water to prevent them from burning.
Cut the pork into a 1inch chunks and put it into a bowl , with dried mint and oregano, juice of 1 lemon, about 3oz of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp of Rometti Red Wine Vinegar, a pink of salt and pepper. Mix everything together, cover with clear film and let it marinate for about 30 minutes or more into the fridge.
In the meantime blacken the sweet peppers into a hot dry griddle, but make sure you don’t burn them. Put them in a bowl and cover it with some clear film to keep the steam in and avoid the skin to come off.

Thread the skewers with the pork cubes and cook them over the grill or griddle for 8 to 10 minutes. Turn them every now and them. Warm your pitas in the oven or grill them.
Before the skewers are ready peel and deseed the peppers, tear them into pieces and put them in a bowl. Roll up the mint leaves, finely slice them and add them to the bowl with the dill. Add a little Rometti Red Wine Vinegar, some salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil and toss it all together.
Serve the souvlakia (plur.) with a dollop of tzatziki and a pita bread. Drizzle some olive oil on top of it, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

~ENJOY!

Photo by David Loftus

Cook N Bake Greek Series: Tzatziki

Rometti Limoncello Cook N Bake Greek Series Tzatziki

After such an elaborated and savory dish last week, this Thursday we decided to focus on something more delicate for your palate, yet one of the most appreciated Greek side dishes, the Tzatziki (or Cucumber Yogurt Dip).

Tzatziki combines fresh, simple ingredients such as garlic, olive oil, vinegar, cucumbers and of course strained yoghurt, and as a result we obtain a creamy, tasty dip which is perfect for pitas, vegetables, and souvlaki (a favorite Greek dish around the world, which we will talk about next week!). Tzatziki can thus be presented as a side dish, appetizer, or condiment.

There are many variations of this dish around the world. Greek cuisine as we have already seen, has a lot of middle eastern roots. In Turkey (Tzatziki takes its name from the Turkish Cacik, which means a form of chutney – for those who don’t know chutney is a mix of spices, vegetables and fruit that originates form the South Asian and Indian cuisine) for example it is served more diluted and often as a soup or salad. In Cyprus mint is a fundamental ingredient for Tzatziki while garlic is in less quantities. In Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia we find it instead of a salad as appetizer, and in Iraq it is served as a meze (appetizer) along with drinks.

If you need an easy and light side dish to serve at a cocktail party or as a starter to a dinner with friends, and – most of all – don’t mind having a garlic breath after eating it (but don’t worry, this dish is addicting so everyone else will have garlic breath as well!), here is a great recipe to make a delicious, tangy, creamy Tzatziki.

Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 cup greek yogurt, strained
1 cup sour cream
2 cucumbers
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
juice of a half lemon
1 tsp. chopped fresh dill

Peel and deseed the cucumbers. Then grate them or dice them in very thin pieces. Make sure that all the excess water is squeezed out of them.
In a bowl combine and mix olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, lemon juice and garlic. In another bowl and with the use of a whisk blend in sour cream and yoghurt. Add both mixtures together. Finally, add the cucumber and chopped fresh dill. Mix until the sauce looks creamy and homogeneous. Serve chill and with a spring of fresh dill before serving.

~ENJOY!