Greek yogurt, garlic bring out best of lamb
My husband is a reluctant cook, but in the summer his attitude changes. He sets up our grill in the backyard and oversees the food cooked on it. Typically. I prep the ingredients and hand them off to him, and he takes it from there. I love this arrangement and, as a result, choose simple grilled entrees as the centerpieces for many of our summertime meals, especially when we are entertaining.
Lamb Kebabs with Yogurt Garlic Sauce is a good example of the kind of recipe we would prepare together. It's quick and easy, and the meat, when cooked over an open fire, is tender and delicious. I use boneless leg of lamb, which I ask the butcher to cut into cubes. The latter are marinated in a mixture of lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, along with seasonings of oregano, bay leaves and red pepper flakes. Just before cooking, I arrange the lamb on skewers and also spear some red and yellow cherry tomatoes as a garnish. The lamb is rosy pink inside after 6 to 8 minutes over hot coals, and the tomatoes are slightly charred in 3 to 4 minutes. In less than a quarter of an hour, this dish is done.
A sauce made with Greek-style yogurt (which is widely available in many supermarkets) and minced garlic makes a refreshing and delectable accompaniment. You could serve the lamb with couscous or rice, embellished, if you like, with parsley and toasted pine nuts. Add a salad and a basket of bread (a crispy baguette or warm pitas), and you've got a great menu for this time of year. A single recipe yields 4 servings, but you can easily double or triple it if necessary.
Grilled Lamb Kebabswith Yogurt Garlic Sauce
• 1 to 1 1/4 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for oiling the grill rack
• 4 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 4 medium-size cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
• 1 tablespoon dried oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 2 bay leaves, broken in half
• 1 cup Greek yogurt
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
• 8 red and 8 yellow cherry tomatoes
• Olive oil for brushing on tomatoes
8 metal or wooden skewers (If using wood, soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes.)
Place the lamb in a nonreactive shallow dish. In a small bowl, mix the oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, oregano, salt, crushed red pepper and bay leaves, and pour over the lamb. Stir to coat the meat well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, stirring several times.
Meanwhile, place the yogurt in a serving bowl and whisk in the 1 teaspoon chopped garlic. Refrigerate for 4 hours or longer; bring to room temperature before using.
To cook, prepare a grill and arrange an oiled rack 4 to 5 inches from the heat. Thread the lamb on 4 long skewers. Alternating, skewer 2 red and 2 yellow cherry tomatoes on 4 long skewers. Brush the tomatoes with olive oil. Grill the lamb, turning often, until it's rosy pink inside, for 6 to 8 minutes. Grill the tomatoes, turning often, until just charred, for 3 to 4 minutes.
Serve the lamb and tomato skewers along with a bowl of the yogurt sauce.
Makes 4 servings.
Betty Rosbottom is a cooking school director from Massachusetts.