All recipes paired with wine, Ground meat, Lamb, Summer Grilling

Shish kebab with Eggplant Hash and Tzatziki Sauce

Shish kebab with eggplant hash and Tzaziki sauceO.K., this may not be the most authentic Shish kebab recipe. I got inspired by a traditional Turkey dish, and tried to re-create the combination I experienced few years ago in Greece. I hope it’s not a sin to take the best from each cuisines, combine it together and make your own twist on it – as long as you love the result, what do you think?

During my research I found out that the secret of moist and tender shish kebab is to mix the ground meat with diced lamb-tail fat. I didn’t want to go that far – and used Crème Fraîche instead. It supported the rich flavors of lamb meat and was absolutely melting in our mouth!

Shish kebab with Eggplant Hash and Tzatziki Sauce

1 pound of ground lamb
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoon Crème Fraîche
4 large shallots – peeled, halved lengthwise, root ends trimmed but kept intact
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 roasted pepper (optional)

For eggplant hash:
1 small eggplant
1/2 finely chopped red onion
1 garlic clove diced
1 can of whole tomatoes
4 small bay leaves
4-5 whole allspice
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup of white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

For Tzatziki sauce:
1 Greek yogurt
3 scallions finely chopped
2/3 English cucumber – peeled, seeded and diced or grated (squeezed in hand for an excess liquid)
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tablespoon of champagne vinegar
2 garlic cloves diced
dill or fresh oregano (optional) – mix together

Start with eggplant hash – it needs to cook through to get the right texture. Slice your eggplant into thick slices, skin attached. Spread slices over paper towel and season with salt. Let it sweat for few minutes, than pat dry with paper towel. Chop into similar size cubes.

In large heavy skillet heat the oil and stir in chopped onion on medium heat. Cook for a minute and add garlic and red pepper flakes, stir and let cook for few seconds (be careful, garlic can quickly turn brown and bitter). Bring up the heat and add all eggplant cubes. Season with salt and pepper and mix to coat all eggplant pieces with oil.

Add white wine and stir. Let wine almost evaporate on high heat and add whole tomatoes with a juice, crushing them carefully with your hand or spatula. Add bay leaves and allspice and stir into mixture. Turn down the heat, cover the pan and let it simmer for at least 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft, on low heat. Finish with generous amount of chopped parsley.

In a medium bowl, gently mix the Crème Fraîche, seasoning, garlic, sliced roasted pepper and parsley into the ground lamb. Roll the mixture into similar size balls. Place all your meatballs on metal skewers and the onions together on separate one.

(I have done the mistake to mix it together – the meat took only few minutes to grill, and I ended up with undone onions, so trust me on this one.) Light a grill and let meatballs sit in room temperature for a few minutes, so the flavors can combine.

Grill kebabs over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned on the outside. depends on the size of your balls – but it only took about 3 minutes on each side and they were done. You don’t want to dry them through. Transfer to plates, and serve with eggplant hash and dipping Tzatziki sauce on the side. Enjoy!

Wine pairing suggestions:
I was just tasting a new Spanish red from Priorat when making this dish. It worked great with the rich taste of the lamb and spicy eggplant hash. Priorat wines are usually priced over $20.00 a bottle, but this one could be just a pleasant exception to the rule.

Bodegas La Cartuja is a modern, sexy blend of Garnacha, Mazuelo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah that just received 90 points from R. Parker. It’s my pleasure to recommend it with this week’s dish.

Priorat, Red blends, Red wine, Spain

Bodegas La Cartuja 2008

Winemaker: Miquel Pinyol
Grape: 50% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo (or Cariñena), 10% Cabernet Sauvignon,10% Syrah
Region: Priorat, Spain

90 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate:

“This is as good a deal as you are going to get from Priorat. The deep purple-colored 2007 La Cartuja is 50% Garnacha, 30% Carinena and the balance Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It offers up an enticing nose of roasted minerals, lavender, incense, black cherry, and blueberry. On the palate it has good grip, savory flavors, and a lengthy finish.” (06/09)

This new wine project in the heart of Priorat, was founded by Borja Osborne, Alberto Orte and Patrick Mata. The single estate of 59 acres is called La Solana and located between the towns of El Molar and El Lloar, 820 ft above sea level.

As its producers proclaim, “La Cartuja is a small production estate-bottled cuvee that intends to show the mineral and spice of Priorat in a youthful style.” And the wine does just that. Organically grown, the winemaker’s team paid personal attention to every detail in the vineyard. After a harvest, wine was fermented with its crushed skin and than aged for 8 months in French oak barrels.

La Cartuja is a very modern wine that is intended to be enjoyed now – unlike most of the (much more expensive) Priorat production, that needs to lay down for a few years. Yet it still shows great structure and mineral complexity, that is so typical and unique for this famous Spanish wine region.

Tasting notes:
Intense aroma of dark fruit as blackberries, red and black cherries and dried plum combined with spices. On the palate it’s medium – to full body red, with lovely layers of clean fruit. Gentle oaky notes, velvety tannins and Priorat’s typical mineral complexity make this wine perfectly balanced.
The sweetness of the rich fruit is mixed with light nutmeg or tobacco hints on the palate. Generous long finish. One glass of this sexy red isn’t going to be enough. Superb value for the quality of the wine!

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Organically grown
Retail price: under $ 17.00

Ideal food pairing:
Shish kebab, grilled meats, Flank steak with shitakee sauce, BBQ, Beef Bourguignon and many more