Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a novel dish to celebrate Dad on his day. My dad loved lamb, and this recipe was always a standout for him and our family. Cooling minted yogurt sauce, an Indian staple condiment, functions as both a marinade that tenderizes the meat and a crunchy, refreshing sauce to serve on the side.
Something wonderful happens to the meat as it grills on an outdoor fire: The orange, cumin and yogurt come together to lightly caramelize the meat. Metal skewers are preferred here, because the meat needs a sturdy skewer to keep it from slipping. Ask your butcher to cut the lamb into 2-inch cubes. I prefer lamb loin or leg of lamb for this dish.
Lamb, particularly American Lamb, has become very expensive. While American is my choice for its refined flavor, New Zealand lamb will work nicely here. Also, sometimes lamb can have a gamey flavor by itself, but marinating the cubes in this creamy spiced blend will help reduce any gaminess in the lamb.
The complementary tomato-mint bulgur suggested here is lovely as a bed for the lamb. Bulgur is wheat that has been steamed and then dried before being ground or crushed, which is why it cooks so quickly. Don’t mistake bulgur for cracked wheat, which takes much longer to cook and has an entirely different texture.
This Mediterranean-inspired grain dish gives the heavy-textured bulgur grain a fresh, light style. I might serve some sauteed green beans to complete the meal. Don’t forget to serve warm rounds of pita bread on the side. The creamy/tangy character of the yogurt suggests a young red such as a zinfandel, pinot noir or syrah to accompany the meal.
Lamb Brochettes with Yogurt Sauce and Tomato-Mint Bulgur
Serves 4 to 6
For the sauce and marinade:
2 cups yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper to taste
For the brochettes:
2 pounds lamb loin, cut into 2-inches
1/2 medium European cucumber, finely chopped
1. Prepare the sauce and marinade by combining all the ingredients. Taste for seasoning.
2. Place the meat in a medium non-aluminum bowl and pour over 3/4 cup of marinade, mixing well so that all the pieces of meat are well coated. Reserve the remaining sauce. Marinate 1/2-4 hours in the refrigerator.
3. Place the lamb on metal skewers. Preheat the broiler or prepare the barbecue for medium-heat grilling. Cook the brochettes, turning them a few times and basting with the marinade until the meat is browned and cooked as desired, about 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Add the chopped cucumber to the remaining sauce and mix together.
5. Place the brochettes on serving plates and pass the remaining minted yogurt sauce.
Recipe note: The dish may be prepared 8 hours in advance, through Step 2, covered and refrigerated.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups coarsely ground bulgur
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
8 red or yellow cherry tomatoes or a combination, quartered
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Fresh mint sprigs, to garnish
1. Heat oil in a deep large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and saute for 5 minutes or until it has softened. Add the bulgur to the skillet and toast it for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook over low heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
3. Remove the bulgur from heat and add the mint and tomatoes, blending carefully so that the tomato pieces stay whole. Add the salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve immediately.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)
©2022 Diane Rossen Worthington. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.