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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Jerk Lamb Kofta #GrillWithGrace




In my continuing efforts to attain world peace through food, today we are going to look at the similarities between Middle Eastern food and Jamaican food.

I was asked to come up with a BBQ recipe using a Grace's Jerk Product as part of their #GrillWithGrace campaign and since you will always find Grace's Jerk Seasoning as well as the marinade in my fridge, I didn't hesitate to accept the gig. I have never really perfected my own jerk, to date, and so I use Grace's all the time. Shack is really picky about jerk and he doesn't like it too allspicey and he doesn't like too hot and since he loves the flavour of Grace's Mild Jerk Seasoning and Marinade, that is what we go with. We always have to keep the picky toddler happy.


The traditional way to use this stuff is to rub the seasoning paste all over your chicken or pork and let it sit in the fridge overnight and then cook it, preferably over a grill and it's delicious as is, straight out of the jar with nothing else added.  When you are in a hurry, the liquid jerk marinade is what you want to use and they even have a really tasty jerk BBQ sauce that is the perfect marriage of spicy, tangy jerk flavour and a sweet, sticky BBQ sauce that is great for basting. I used some of that on some slow baked pork ribs and it was great but my job is to take this stuff and run with it and try to find other things you can do with it, so that is what I did.

So, we love kofta and if you poke around, you will see that many recipes for kofta (sometimes called kefta) contain allspice, and cinnamon, both very prevalent spices in Jamaican food along with allspice (or pimento, as it is often referred to in Jamaica) which is a really important ingredient in jerk. I couldn't help but think that making jerk kofta makes all the sense in the world and I was right. In fact, I don't know if I will ever make kofta WITHOUT the jerk seasoning from now on. Even Shack, who is a bit of a lamb hater, gobbled them up and promised that as long as I keep making lamb that tastes like this, he will eat it.

Jerk is often served with coleslaw, while kofta is often served alongside tabbouleh. Both are salads that contain, raw, finely chopped or shredded, crunchy vegetables with an acidic dressing (vinegar for the slaw and lemon juice for the tabbouleh) and each offer some colour and crunch to the complement the meat.  Traditional tabbouleh even has allspice in it so with the addition of some shredded red cabbage to stand up for the 'slaw and some scallions - another important ingredient in both cuisines, I didn't have to do too much to my usual tabbouleh recipe at all to bring together the flavours of two cuisines that would appear to be world's apart, but that are actually closer than you would ever guess.

Lamb is not all that popular in Jamaica, where it is the goat that is king but, both animals say baaaaa, and the East Indians who emigrated to Jamaica substituted goat for the beloved lamb of their homeland and are responsible for the whole curry goat thing as a result so, in a round about way, even the jerk lamb makes sense and world peace is one step closer, thanks to the delicious cross pollination of classic dishes.


I was hired to come up with this recipe but, as always, I only work with products that I truly believe in and love, my word is my bond, my opinions cannot be bought etc etc etc.




Jerk Kofta 

because the jerk seasoning is already salty, I did not add any actual salt to the meat



545g of ground lamb
350g ground beef
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped mint
1 small onion grated (about 1/4 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated on a microplane
3 tbls sweet paprika
1 tbls cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
few grinds black pepper
4 tbls  or 1/4 cup Grace's Mild Jerk Seasoning (use the hot if you want extra heat)

Mix all of your ingredients together either by hand, as you would for meatballs or with the paddle attachment in a stand mixer on low for a minute. Always take a pinch of the meat mixture and fry it quickly so you can taste it and adjust seasonings if necessary.

It's best to let the meat rest for at least an hour or so (I left it for the day) store the kofta mixture in the fridge.


When it's time to grill them, you have a couple of options:
form a handful of the  meat into a long cylinder around each skewer - I prefer to use metal skewers for this but if you use wood, make sure they are really well soaked.

You can also just form the meat into cylinders without using skewers , or, you can make small patties by rolling large meatballs and flattening them down.


Cook over hot coals or a preheated gas BBQ (on high) approximately five minutes per side, depending on the heat of your coals and the size of your kofta. Try to get the meat evenly packed on to the skewers to ensure even cooking.



Tabbouleh


1/4 cup fine bulgar wheat
approx 125 g of finely chopped Italian parsley (about 1 small bunch)
approx 65 grams of finely chopped cilantro ( a couple of handfuls)
about 65 grams of fresh mint or to taste (mint can be very overpowering so start small)
450 g of finely chopped, ripe tomato, small dice
1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
3 or 4 large radishes, julienned
3 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp Jamaican allspice
a few grinds of black pepper
juice of two lemons
100ml extra virgin olive oil
handful of pomegranate seeds


Carefully wash the bulgar (using a really fine strainer to catch it) a few times until the water runs clear. Drain the bulgar, using that fine strainer and set aside in a bowl to soften, fluffing it up from time to time with a fork, for about 30 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Put your chopped tomato in a strainer over a bowls so some of the juices can drain off.

Prep the rest of your vegetables and your herbs. Gather big handfuls of fresh herb and rinse quickly under cool, running water, shake it off and then slice finely. If you get to vigorous with your chopping it will bruise.

In a bowl, mix the fresh herbs, the tomato, cabbage, radish, scallions, salt, cinnamon and allspice with the black pepper and stir well. Scatter the bulgar over top, give another toss and taste. Adjust for salt if needed. Now add in the lemon juice and olive oil and mix well. Scatter a handful of pomegranate seeds over the top.

It's best served on the same day and if you are making it ahead of time, hold off on chopping and adding the mint until right before you are serving as the mint tends to blacken.