Wednesday, August 8

Guys, Grilled Lamb, and Giada (Well, More Bobby Flay Actually)

When Jeff watches t.v., it’s typically one of three types of shows: sports (he’s a guy), nature/science programs (he’s a doctor), and cooking competitions (I’m stumped). He’s not so much into instructional cooking shows, though he doesn’t mind Giada’s Everyday Italian (he’s a guy). What he really likes are the cooking competitions, like Top Chef and Iron Chef America.

One night last summer, we saw a particularly inspiring episode of Iron Chef featuring Bobby Flay, Jeff’s second favorite chef after Cat Cora (he’s a guy; Jeff, not Cat, that is). We like Bobby’s creativity and the way he makes ordinary grilled food seem chic.

So the following day when I went to the library, I checked out a couple of his books, including Grilling for Life and Boy Gets Grill. They were mixed in among a 4-foot high pile of cookbooks (including many baking ones) that caught Jeff’s eye when he came home.

Picking through the pile like he was looking for the perfect apple among many bruised ones, he paused upon seeing Bobby’s books. “Hon, why do you have two Bobby Flay grilling cookbooks?” he asked.

“Because he’s the guy you really like on Iron Chef, so I thought I’d check out some of his recipes,” I replied.

“So, are you planning on just reading them or actually making something from them?” he asked.

“Making something. Why else would I have gotten them?” I said. (Though we both instantly realized the flaw in that argument—for the next three weeks, the closest thing those baking books would come in contact with is dust.)

“But hon, we don’t have a grill,” he said delicately.

“I know we don’t have a grill, but we will some day,” I said.

For the last three years, we lived in a WWII era home with many charming traits, including honey-colored hard woods and a fragrant lemon tree outside of our bedroom window. However, since these homes were built about 8 inches apart from one another, grills were not allowed.

We’re in a new place now that was recently constructed, so we have not one but two grills. As a result, Bobby and I have become pretty tight.

So when I received an email a couple of weeks ago from Rachelle of the American Lamb Board, offering me some lamb, I didn’t hesitate to accept or to consult Bobby. When I asked Jeff if he would prefer Bobby’s lamb sandwich with a sage aioli and sun-dried tomato tapenade or lamb kebabs with a minted yogurt chutney and tomato-eggplant jam, his answer was “yes.” I made both.

My experience was wonderful. As Rachelle promised, the package of lamb from Superior Farms arrived on time; it contained an 8-9 pound piece of lamb, 4 skewers, a meat thermometer, some dried rosemary and Turkish oregano from Penzey’s, and some recipes from the Board.

Lamb is a versatile meat that can be cooked in various ways with various seasonings. To make the most succulent lamb possible, marinate it overnight in olive oil and fresh herbs; this helps tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor. Also cook it on a thoroughly preheated grill until medium-rare to prevent it from becoming tough. The result: charred on the outside, buttery on the inside. In fact, when Jeff finished his sandwich, he said, “This is palpably better than store-bought lamb. You better find out how much this costs to ship, cause we gotta get this again.”

This recipe for Grilled Lamb Sandwiches with Sage Aioli and Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade is from Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay on The Food Network. I made minor changes such as adding arugula leaves for extra spice and color and substituting fresh herbs for capers in the tapenade. Since everything in this recipe can be made the day ahead, it’s a great weeknight meal when you’re short on time.

Grilled Lamb Sandwiches with Sage Aioli and Sun-Dried
Tomato Tapenade

Serves 4
Print recipe only here.
4 lamb steaks (about 4-6 ounces each)
½ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
4 rosemary sprigs
salt and pepper
2 bunches spring onions, trimmed
1 tsp olive oil

2 French bread baguettes
A handful of arugula leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sage Aioli:
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3-4 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Sun-Dried Tomato and Black Olive Tapenade:
½ cup minced mixed cured olives, such as Kalamata, Cerignola, Nicoise
4-6 oil-soaked sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp good olive oil
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 tsp fresh lemon juice, plus some zest
Several shakes of crushed red pepper
Marinate lamb in olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and salt and pepper for at least 4 hours or overnight.
To prepare the sage aioli, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. (Can be made ahead.)
To prepare the sun-dried tomato tapenade, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. (Can be made ahead.)
To prepare sandwiches, preheat grill. Brush green onions with 1 tsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until almost cooked through; remove from heat. Remove lamb from marinade, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill the lamb until the thickest part registers 135 degrees F. for medium rare, turning occasionally, about 4-6 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand 10 minutes. Brush bread with some olive oil and grill, until golden brown, about 1 minute.
Spread some sage aioli and sun-dried tomato tapenade on each sandwich. Top with meat, some green onions, and a few arugula leaves.

This second recipe is also from Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay on The Food Network. The only changes I made were making kebabs with cherry tomatoes, omitting the garlic, and serving it with whole wheat pita bread. You may want to make extra jam...I was eating it by the spoonful.

Lamb Kebabs with Minted Cucumber Chutney and
Tomato-Eggplant Jam

Serves 4
Print recipe only here.
1 ¼- 1 ½ pounds lamb, cut into 16 equal pieces for skewers
½ cup olive oil
4 rosemary sprigs
1 Tbsp fresh thyme

16 cherry tomatoes, for skewers
4 whole wheat pita breads
Minted Cucumber Chutney:
8 ounces yogurt, drained

¾ cup seedless cucumbers, peeled and diced
1/4 cup mint, chiffonade
2 Tbsp finely diced green onions
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Tomato-Eggplant Jam:
1 small eggplant, thickly sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved and seeded
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Marinate the lamb in olive oil and fresh herbs at least 4 hours or overnight.
To drain yogurt, place in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl; refrigerate for at least a couple of hours. Place the drained yogurt in a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and season generously with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.
Brush the eggplant slices with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill until just cooked through and lightly golden brown. Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch dices. Place in a medium bowl, and toss with the remaining ingredients.
To warm pitas, place on grill for about 1 minute, flipping once. Keep under tented foil until ready to use.

To cook meat, preheat grill. Remove the lamb from the marinade, and season with salt and pepper. Alternate 4 pieces of lamb and four cherry tomatoes per skewer. Grill for 4-6 minutes, turning as needed, for medium-rare.
Serve cooked kebabs with chutney, jam, and pita breads.

You might also like:
Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Sandwich
(Giant) Grilled Lobster
Fritatta (Fri-taaa-ta) Sandwich

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MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Jeff sounds like a fun "guy".
Both of these look terrific - Bobby does know his grill. I may have to try that tomato-eggplant jam.

Kalyn Denny said...

Both these recipes look great! I just love lamb.

Katie Zeller said...

Okay, you've convinced me! I became so disenchanted with the food network on my last trip to the states that I was avoiding all of the 'stars'. Bobby's book(s) have been add to my Amazon list. Both recipes sound fantastic...and we have 3 grills and a smoker!

Asha said...

Jeff is a doctor too,so is my hubby!(Internist):))
Jeff watches food competitions bcos docs are nerds and they like a challenge!!Hahaha!! Giada, of course, you know why?!:P
Arvind mostly watches animal planet or TLC and sleeps in a second on the sofa until 10pm and then goes to bed after a tiring ,long day!!:D
Both looks yum, specially Bobby Flays.Eggplant jam is interesting!

Deborah said...

My husband is the same, but only started watching the food competitions and Top Chef after he met me. I recently made my first Bobby Flay recipe and it was a total hit!! Just a sauce, but an amazing sauce. This recipe really looks like a winner!

Anonymous said...

I used to drive hours to get a decent lamb kebab in a Persian restaurants until the hubby and I finally discovered a recipe that worked for us. Lamb (as well as duck) are two meats that makes my heart flutter. I always get Australian lamb but I guess it's time to give American Lamb another try. Your lamb dishes are making me hungry right now - and I just had lunch!

KellytheCulinarian said...

I just blogged about what a failure one of Giada's recipe was! Bobby's looks better. I haven't eaten a ton of lamb in my day, but these look delicious.

Amy said...

Haven't had breakfast yet but you're making me crave kebabs! These recipes look delish! I love the tapenade, sage aioli, lamb combo.

Matt said...

yeah, I like to watch Giada too... :)

Anonymous said...

How can I be reading this after lunch and suddenly be ravenous? Lamb is one of my favorite foods, Susan, and these recipes look and sound amazing.

Also sounds like you and Jeff are a great team. very cool.

Anonymous said...

Nobody calls me ever to offer me lamb. What's up with that??

Your recipes sound great. And grilled?? Bonus!!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'd probably pass up the lamb if someone offered me the cucumber mint chutney -- delicious!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Tanna-I think he's pretty fun. :)

Kalyn- Hope you try them!

Katiez-I don't really watch it, but the recipes are available online, and I like looking through the books too. Hope you give Bobby a try!

Asha-Really? Good thing is I fall asleep early too. ;)
The eggplant jam was fabulous!

Deborah-I love the sauces!

Veronica-Some of Jeff's favorites are Persian recipes.

Kelly-They were a hit with everybody.

Amy-Maybe you should wait for lunch for the kebabs! ;)

Suburbangourmet-That's because you're a guy. ;)

Terry-That is sweet of you to say.


Lydia-I was eating that by the spoonful too!

Anh said...

I can't keep my eyes off these photos. OMG, lamb is my fav, and your recipes are soooooooooooooooo delicious!

J said...

Oh those kebabs look perfect! I've tried tomato jam but not a tomato eggplant one. I'm curious what it tastes like.

Anonymous said...

LOL! I love your husbands response to the question ;) Pity we've done our meat shopping for the month, but next month I'll make sure to get some lamb on the list :D

Patricia Scarpin said...

Susan, both your dishes look so good! João would be drooling over the keyboard if he saw this.
I've had (and cooked) lamb just once and he loved it; keeps asking me to make it again.

s'kat said...

Oh. My. Goodness! They all look good, but the sandwich especially! This is all reminding me that I brought no lunch with me today. :( I want lamb!

Abby said...

We recently bought a big gas grill for our patio and I'm looking forward to getting it set up to use. I've never made lamb, but those recipes look so great I might have to venture out of my comfort zone!

Mishmash ! said...

hehhehe...does jeff read your blog ? :)) lamb kebabs look awesome and so tempting...but I thought u re a vegetarian...!


Anonymous said...

ooooh, this whole thing looks delicious! i've tried and failed at maiking aioli before.

bluebicicletta said...

You take great pictures. What kind of camera do you use? Any tips on taking good food pictures?

Sig said...

Giada... really? :)

Both the dishes look so yummy! That eggplant -tomato jam sounds very tempting... lamb is my favorite meat, so always looking for new recipes.... thanks Susan... and Bobby too...:)

Toni said...

I eat lamb only rarely, but the kebobs look so good that I'm thinking it's about time for another round. And the tomato-eggplant "jam" sounds fabulous! Now THAT, I would serve with lots of different dishes.

Anonymous said...

These recipes look awesome--I just love lamb, especially with bold Mediterranean flavors. Of course, being an apartment dweller, I would have to broil the meat, which isn't nearly as much fun as grilling.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Anh- Thanks sooooooo much. :)

Jyothsna- The creamy eggplant adds a slight smoky, earthy quality that is lovely with the tomatoes. I couldn't stop eating it.

Ellie-Well, put it on the list for next month!

Patricia-You'll make him very happy. Trust me.

Skat-I wish I could make you one.

Abby-Embark on the adventure!

Shn-I am, but I cook a lot of meat. See what we do for love. :)

Aria-He's got some great recipes.

Nicole-Many thanks! I use a Canon Power Shot A95 (when my husband's not using it to take pictures of rashes--it's his and he's a dermatologist). :) Actually, I don't have any training, but I'd suggest using natural light as much as possible, simple set ups, plain plates, etc. to start, and taking lots of pics. Lots. The more you take, the more you learn. At least it's true for me. Hope this helps!

Sig-Oh, I'm so glad then!

Toni-Make extra jam!! Trust me.

Sarah-Broiling will still taste good!

Anonymous said...

I love eating lamb. It's just that I don't cook it as often as other types of meat. These are great recipes, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Yummm. I am totally drooling here!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Such scrumptious food! That sandwich is very attractive!

Nora B. said...

Susan, you got me at "charred on the outside, buttery on the inside". I want some! That grilled sandwich looks sooooo good.

Deb said...

I have never cooked lamb and I have no reason why. Everything looks delish! I've got to start cooking lamb!

P.S. Would love to meet up for a saturday morning breakfast. How about it?

Chris said...

Susan! I have been a bit MIA - but wow - these are great! You kicked Bobby's butt with these....See - a girls touch...:)

As always - you're fab!

Stella said...

Gosh! I love kebabs!!! And tomato-eggplant jam??? Never tasted it but it sure sounds awesome!!!

Anonymous said...

Your photography is excellent! Yummy recipes :-)

(Blogging Chicks)

Anonymous said...

I love lamb. Especially grilled.

Anonymous said...

Susan, that sandwich looks incredible. I have to admit I find Bobby Flay's food quite appealing, and it looks like you cooked a quality piece of lamb perfectly. I also love your substitution of arugula and fresh herbs -- I think it makes these sandwiches just perfect for summer.

Jeanne said...

Jeff and Nick sound as if they would get on just fine. So if we ever get to meet up, they can amuse themselves while you and I go to the farmer's market and then move on to cocktails ;-)

Both of these recipes sound amazing, particularly the sandwich. I adore lamb and every time I eat it I wonder why we don't have it more often. We had some thick lamb chops on the BBQ recently that were just so succulent and wonderful; and before that a friend made some marinated pork and lamb kebabs that melted in your mouth.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Pablopabla-I know what you mean.

Lynn-Thanks so much!


Nora B-:)

Deb-I hope you'll try it. It was really easy. Sounds good. I'll email you. :)

Chris-I think you're pretty fab too. :)

Valentina-Make the jam! :)

Howtome-Oh, thank you!

Wendy-Then you'll love these.

Rob-Now, I really know Jeff and I are in good company if you like Bobby too. :)

Jeanne-I know what you mean. Jeff enjoyed them both, but he really loved biting into that hefty sandwich.

Thomas Andrew said...

My mom and I love lamb ! I'm going to make this for her on Friday. The Tomato Tapenade sounds amazing!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, wonderful! Hope you and your mom have a lovely dinner.