My son the meatatarian and I often connect over a good skewer of lamb which is grilled over hot coals until barely red in the middle. In Greece they might call this souvlaki, but in Turkey, where my skewers came from, all grilled meat like this is called kebab. Soaked in oil and spices for a few hours, the lamb melts into tenderness. Souvlaki or kebab – whatever you call it, it tastes wonderful.
The perfect pairing with these is homemade pitas, and at Chez Bullhog we consider Greek style to be superior. These pitas are softer and spongier than their Middle Eastern counterparts and, while they can’t be relied on for a good pocket, they make delightful wraps. Garnish with tomato, lettuce and tatziki for a real handful of a treat. Can you say ‘Yum?’
Here’s my recipe for both. Enjoy!
Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Homemade Greek Pitas
Quantity to feed 6 meatatarians
For the Lamb Kebabs:
2 pounds lean lamb from the shoulder or leg (see note below)
1 Tablespoon of dried oregano, preferably Greek
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
2 large cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
3 Tablespoons of good olive oil
Salt and pepper to finish
For the Greek Pita:
6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt
½ cup + 1 Tablespoon of water at 150°
2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried yeast
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup flour for bench work
1 teaspoon canola oil
Lamb note: Consider buying a 3-pound boneless leg of lamb to make these kebabs; use two pounds of it for the kebabs and freeze the other pound for stew or curry. That way, you can cut out the more tender chunks for the kebabs and save the tougher pieces for longer cooking.
Marinate the Lamb: Cut lamb into 1½” pieces and put into a glass or metal bowl. Sprinkle with the oregano, thyme, minced garlic and olive oil and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours before grilling.
Make the pita dough: In a small bowl, combine hot water and yogurt. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, yeast and salt. Now add the yogurt mix to the flour mix and combine well with the handle of a wooden spoon, scraping down the sides as necessary. Move the dough ball to a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Clean the mixing bowl, sprinkle it with oil, put the dough in it, and cover with plastic. Let rise at room temperature for 3 hours.
Start the grill: A charcoal grill is best for these. With the lid off and the vents open, start about 25 briquettes and let burn until red. Spread them out in a circle and add another 25 before putting the grill surface into place. Let the coals burn another 10 or 15 minutes until hot and glowing. Scrape any burnt residue off of the grill surface and coat lightly with oil if desired.
Turn on the oven: These pitas are best baked on a pizza stone or quarry tiles set on a middle rack in your oven. Preheat the oven at 425° for 30 minutes.
Make the kebabs: Thread meat onto 4 or more skewers. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and grill over hot coals for 4 minutes on each of 4 sides. Remove to a warm plate and cover with a piece of plastic wrap while you make the pitas.
Form and bake the pitas: Cut risen dough into 6 equal pieces. Flatten each piece with your hand and then use a rolling pin to make 9” rounds. Use flour as necessary to prevent sticking.
Bake pitas 2 at a time directly on the quarry tiles or pizza stone. After 1½ to 2 minutes, once the dough is puffy on the top, turn the pitas over and finish for a further 1½ minute. Remove to a basket lined with a hand towel and cover baked pieces until ready to serve. Continue until all the pitas are baked.
Put it all together: Serve with tomato slices, lettuce and tatziki. Hummus is nice with these, too. Wrap as a sandwich if you like or use the pitas for dipping. Either way, this classic combination is a hit every time!