Growing up in a typical Midwest family, we didn’t really venture into much ethnic cooking other than spaghetti and tacos. And I really wouldn’t call those two foods all that ethnic the way we cooked them. To this day, my twin sister puts ketchup on her tacos – gross!
I have to admit I was a pretty picky eater well into my 30’s. I wouldn’t think of eating chunky tomatoes in salsa, or trying things like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and fresh ginger in my beef.
I am so glad my tastes have changed because these beef and pork kofta kebab sandwiches are packed with so much flavor. Typically I believe beef and lamb is combined to make this dish, but that’s the best part about cooking – adapting with what you have on hand. I had ground pork in my freezer so that subbed for the ground lamb nicely.
Feel free to pan fry these in a non-stick skillet with a bit of grape seed oil, but since you probably have the BBQ grill all set up by now (hello June!) these will be awesome on your grill.
Kofta Kebabs with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
Serves Four – 3 meatballs per serving
For the Tzatziki sauce:
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 large English cucumber, grated and squeezed dry*
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked pepper
Combine all of the above ingredients and store in the fridge until ready to serve. This is also a great dip for veggies as a snack.
*It’s important to squeeze out all of the liquid from the cucumbers before adding it to the yogurt so that it stays rich and creamy and not watery.
For the kofta kebab:
- ½ pound ground sirloin
- ½ pound ground pork (or lamb if you can find it!)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if you don’t like spice, you can leave this out)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ cup parsley
- 1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
Throw everything into the food processor and pulse until combined.
At this point, make a tiny kebab and cook it in a skillet to taste and see if it needs more seasoning. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve not tasted my food as I was cooking, only to wish I had tweaked a dish with more seasoning before I finished the dish.
I use metal skewers, so I don’t need to soak those, but if you use wooden skewers, make sure you soak them for at least 30 minutes before grilling.
I got 12 kofta balls out of this recipe. Divide the mixture into 12 portions and shape into an oblong, almost mini-football size shape, and skewer the meat onto your skewers. Place the skewers in your fridge while you light the grill. It helps keep the meat together when turning it on the grill since there isn’t any binding fillers like bread crumbs.
Grill over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes per side.
To plate: Place pita bread on the plate, place some tzatziki on the pita bread, top with three kebabs, and garnish with red cabbage, (onions if you like that sort of thing – I hate onions!) and fresh chopped dill. I served mine with a side of pan fried sugar snap peas tossed with toasted sesame seeds.
This dish is packed with so much flavor! I hope you give it a try.
If you like Mediterranean food, or want to kick up your grilling skills, check out these upcoming classes at The Chopping Block:
Question of the day: Were you an adventurous eater growing up? Let me know in the comments!