Here are some fun recipes to shake up the normal Easter dinner – I don’t know about you, but i get sick of the same salt lick of a ham each and every year. This meal blends some classic winter flavors with bright grilled lamb to welcome you fully to the resurgence of spring.
Lamb Kofta with Coriander Raita, yield: 4 servings
Kofta is a family of foods consisting of ground up or minced meat, seasoned and made into meatballs, patties and/or meatloaf. Kofta recipes can be found originating from the Middle East to Southern Asia, and while 85% of the recipes I’ve come across are meat-focused, there are a handful of Indian recipes that substitute paneer, potato or starchy plantain to be vegetarian.
The protein used can be beef, lamb, pork, mutton, poultry and/or blend. I personally love the flavor of good clean lamb, but pork’s ability to take on flavor is unmatched and the gamey taste of lamb can turn people off, so, in the end, I like to use a blend of lamb and pork: This way I get the strong clean flavors I want of the lamb and spices, but can easily please a hesitant crowd.
Then, we eat this with Raita, a cucumber-yogurt sauce that dances with the spiced lamb on your palate and creates a subtle tingle of love and harmony in your soul.
Recipe for Lamb Kofta
1 1/4lbs ground lamb
1lb ground pork
1/2c packed Fresh basil, medium chop
1 lemon, zested and zest chopped fine
1t cinnamon, ground
1t black pepper, ground
1t cumin, ground
1t clove, ground
2T onion powder
2T garlic powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat grill, fire up coals or warm oven at 450F (these are best grilled over charcoal or wood).
In a non-reactive mixing bowl or kitchen aid mixer combine meats, spices, salt, zest, eggs and then breadcrumbs. Mix until spices are fully incorporated and spread evenly through the mixture. Then fold in basil.
It would be good to let this mixture sit for 1-2hrs in the refrigerator to help the flavors bloom before cooking. You don’t want it to sit too long otherwise the salt will begin to cook the meat.
Once the desired time has passed, form a meat log over skewers, meatballs, or patties.
Place these on the grill with direct high heat and cook for 4-5mins on each side, or until cooked to medium well. Be sure to be gentle – until the meat is cooked it can be a little fragile and fall off the skewer.
Serve on or off the skewer while still warm with my herb fresh Coriander Raita. Recipe as follows.
Recipe for Coriander Raita, yield: 1 pint
1pt full fat Greek yogurt
4ea garlic cloves, finely minced
1bu cilantro, chopped
1ea medium tomato, concasse
1bu mint, chopped
2T coriander, toasted and ground
2t cumin, toasted and ground
1ea English cucumber, diced, but seeds removed
1ea lime, juice and zest
Place cucumber in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Toss well; drain for 30 minutes.
Then place all ingredients with the salted cucumbers into bowl and fold together.
Season with salt. Taste.
Does it need more salt? Can you taste all of the ingredients?
Eat with lamb, chicken, naan, pita or whatever your little heart desires.
Store refrigerated in an air tight container for up to 3 days.
And how about some side dishes?
Spicy Cauliflower Gratin, yield: 8 servings
This is a great side to add some depth to Easter dinner. And, added bonus: It’s quite simple to make, but will impress even the most discerning of diners.
1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets
1ea large yellow onion, julienne
1ea fennel bulb, julienne
3ea garlic gloves, minced and covered in grapeseed oil
1/4c fresh thyme, chopped
1c aged white cheddar, grated
1c heavy cream
1c vegetable stock
TT salt/black pepper
2T crushed red pepper
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a non-reactive mixing bowl; mix breadcrumbs, garlic in oil and a pinch of salt. Stir until fully incorporated and reserve.
In non-reactive pot; place 2T unsalted butter, cauliflower, onion, fennel, thyme, heavy cream, stock, flour and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until veggies are tender. Place into 8inx8in Pyrex baking dish.
Cover with seasoned breadcrumbs.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until breadcrumbs have browned and gratin is bubbling. Serve hot.
Brussels sprouts w/ bacon & apple cider vinegar, yield: 4 servings
1lb Brussels sprouts cut in half
1/4lb bacon, rendered crisp and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3T apple cider vinegar
TT black tellicherry pepper/sea salt
2T grapeseed oil
Place non-reactive stainless steel sauté pan or cast iron pan on medium high heat. Once pan is hot, add Brussels sprouts and grapeseed oil. Toss them a few times to fully coat with oil, salt and pepper. Once they are seasoned, use a tongs and make sure the Brussels are cut side down to get maximum caramelization. You also need to make sure there is enough space in the pan for all the Brussels to be cut side down. So make sure you have a big enough pan or do them in batches otherwise your pan will not retain the heat needed and the Brussels won’t be delicious and roasted.
Once the Brussels are in the pan, let them sit and sizzle for 4-8 minutes without fussing with them. If the pan is too dry the Brussels will dry out and not be crispy, so if the Brussels soak up all the oil, then add more!
Once you have a nice and crispy Brussels sprout situation, add the garlic for 2 mins, remove from heat, add cider vinegar to deglaze and toss in bacon. Taste the Brussels. Are they a bit salty tangy and crunchy? Good. No one likes mushy bland Brussels sprouts. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.