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A couple of weeks ago we had some friends over for a Sunday feast. J has previously mastered the Chicken Gyros (recipe soon!) and wanted to try his hand at the more traditional gyro meat, which is a combination of lamb and beef. As usual, one of our favorite Food Network chefs, Alton Brown, didn’t disappoint with this easy recipe. The hardest part was pressing the meat without a brick!
Ingredient Gyro Meat:
1 medium onion, finely chopped (we used the food processor)
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (we probably used a little more)
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon dried ground rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)
Directions Gyro Meat:
Process the onion in a food processor for 10 to 15 seconds and turn out into the center of a tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel and squeeze until almost all of the juice is removed. Discard juice. (We actually just used a coffee filter inside a strainer with a weight on top). Return the onion to the food processor and add the lamb, beef, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, salt, and pepper and process until it is a fine paste, approximately 1 minute. Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the mixture into a loaf pan, making sure to press into the sides of the pan. We ended up cooking this in two loaf pans. A bread loaf pan and a 9×13 pan. Place the loaf pan into a water bath and bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven and drain off any fat. (We ended up doing this twice as the first time the temperature wasn’t quite high enough. In fact, we ended up turning up the heat to 350 degrees just to make sure it cooked through.) Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and place a brick wrapped in aluminum foil directly on the surface of the meat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F. We used smaller pans to press the meat. Warning: Be careful during this process, the water is hot, the meat is hot, the pan is hot and there are lots of opportunities for burns. Steam burns hurt. If you are using traditional pot holders and oven gloves, be extra careful the steam will cause these to get wet and increase your chances of getting a burn. If you have an oveglove, use that, we plan to invest in one ourselves.
Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes and feta cheese.
This was so so so so good. I couldn’t stop eating it. The flavors rally shine and despite my hesitation (and general aversion to sauces) the tzatziki sauce make all the flavors pop even more. I cannot wait to eat this again!
Ingredients Tzatziki Sauce:
16 ounces plain yogurt (we used Dannon because it came in the right sized container)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
Pinch kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil (we used extra virgin)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
5 to 6 fresh mint leaves, finely minced
Place the yogurt in a tea towel, gather up the edges, suspend over a bowl, and drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator. (We actually didn’t do this as the yogurt we purchased had already separated so we just drained it off). Place the chopped cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and mint. Serve as a sauce for gyros. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week. (We just used the original container.)
This is good as a dip too! I’ve eaten it with pita chips and tortilla chips. Where it really makes a difference is on the gyro meat.
After watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations for Vietnam, J and I have sought out Vietnamese dishes to prepare. And as we’ve mentioned before, we are always looking for more ways to eat fish . J found this recipe from the Ravenous Couple and it didn’t disappoint. Easy to prepare, delicious and fragrant, we’ve added this to our dinner rotation.
1 lb of white fish fillets (We used tilapia fillets)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (this gives the fish the beautiful yellow color)
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder (The original recipe calls for galangal powder, but we’ve had a hard time finding it around us)
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce
1 large red onion, sliced (we only had a white onion on hand)
1 cup of green onion cut lengthwise into 1.5 inch segments
1 bunch of fresh dill coarsely chopped (thick stems removed)
1/4 cup of dry roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed (we didn’t use this because we didn’t have any)
12 oz. bag of vermicelli noodles (boiled and drained, we used white rice because we didn’t have vermicelli on hand)
If you’re ever interested in making your own fish sauce, the original recipe has instructions on how to do that. We opted not to for time purposes, as we made this on a weeknight.
Combine olive oil, turmeric, galangal, garlic, shallots, salt, sugar, and fish sauce in large bowl and mix well. Cut the fish into smaller fillets and gently mix, and allow to marinade in the fridge for at least an hour.
You’ll need two skillets for this, one large and one medium. In the large skillet, saute the red and green onions with a bit of oil under medium low heat. At the same time have the medium non-stick skillet heating on medium high.
While the onions are cooking, cook the fish fillets about 3 minutes on each side until you get a nice golden opaque color and a light brown crust. A minute or so before the fish is done, turn the large skillet with the onions to high and place the cooked fillets on top of the sauteed onions and scallions. Remove from heat and generously top with fresh dill and roasted peanuts (if desired). Serve immediately over vermicelli noodles, fresh lettuce and herbs.
The dill, fish sauce and mint make te flavors really pop. If you’re skeptical like we initially were, try just a little of each on one bite. I promise, you won’t regret it. The only change we’ve made is to use a bit of a firmer fish. Tilapia was just what we had on hand the first time and worked fine, but cod, halibut, or the recommended catfish would be easier to sear. You won’t feel bogged down by this dish. It’s light and filling. We served it with rice, but that was almost unnecessary, the onions were enough.
In college, J and I practically lived on jambalaya and coffee. Of course, it was the boxed version and after eating it for two years, we got pretty burned out. Which was sad because jambalaya is so tasty and easy and perfect for a chilly evening. Luckily, J found this jambalaya recipe and with a few tweaks cured the burnout.
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 (14 ounce) package andouille sausage, sliced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 large celery ribs, chopped (we left them in half moons)
3 tbs garlic, minced (we eyeballed this as we like garlic)
1 bunch scallion, chopped
1 (32 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
about 15 ounces chicken stock
1 1/4 cups long grain rice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Tony Chacere’s creole seasoning (as the original recipe states, there is absolutely no substitute for Tony’s)
cracked black pepper (to taste)
Cook sliced sausage over medium high heat in a 6 quart stock pot until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic and scallions and cook until softened but not translucent, about 4 minutes. Add cubed chicken breast and Worcestershire sauce and cook just until you can no longer see pink. Add the bay leaves, basil, oregano, sage, paprika, Tony Chacere’s, salt, black pepper, tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add rice, bring back up to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes. The jambalaya should still be wet, but not soupy. Remove the bay leaves. Enjoy!
We’ll be adding this back to our regular dinner rotation. It was super easy to make and make more than enough to freeze half for a later meal.
Every year for Christmas, J and I invite our families to a Christmas Eve Mexican inspired feast. The tradition sprung out of our time in San Antonio where tamales are often given as gifts. Our favorite salsa is the wonderful green Tomatillo Salsa and we finally found a recipe that rivals the homemade ones we had in Texas. Now if only we could master the tamales in time for the holiday…
2 pound tomatillos husked (most of the ones we found in our local grocer were mostly husked already. Be ware: they are sticky!)
2 white onion, peeled, sliced, quartered
8 Garlic cloves
4 teaspoons Ground cumin
2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime, juiced
On a baking tray, roast tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices on the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky. Transfer all but 1 cup of your tomatillo salsa to a serving dish or bowl for later, leaving that last 1 cup in the food processor.
If I’m not careful when we make this, I end up eating half of it with tortilla chips before I can add it to any dish. So good!