Martha Stewart Living (June 2010)
But we're always a little flummoxed about what to do with them. Of course they're great raw, either by themselves or in a salad. And when there's a huge bounty of cukes, there are pickles to be made. We also know that they can be excellent in cocktails. In fact, this weekend we had a muddled-cucumber gin cocktail we're dying to recreate at home.
But actually cooking with cucumbers? We've always been stumped.
Which is why we were really excited about this recipe for Lamb-and-Cucumber Kebabs with Feta Sauce in last month's Martha Stewart Living.
Grilling cucumbers? We had to try it ourselves.
This actually turns out to be a relatively simple dish that's easy to throw together: Marinate the lamb for a half hour, thread the skewers, make a sauce and fire up the grill.
That said, some recipes -- though relatively simple in execution -- can really confuse the heck of you. We found two things in this recipe that were confusing.
First, when the recipe says to "finish" each kebab with a lemon wedge, we misunderstood that to mean we should sprinkle lemon juice on each kebab once it comes off the grill, like how you "finish" a dish with oil. Looking at the photo in the magazine, though, it's clear they actually intend for you to include a lemon wedge on the end of each skewer. Whoops! It's not really integral to the dish, but we found it confusing.
Another, more important part of the recipe that confused us was the amount of meat that is required. The recipe calls for "1/2 boneless leg of lamb (3 1/2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes." We weren't sure whether that meant half of a 3 1/2 pound leg of lamb, or half of a 7 pound leg of lamb. Looking at the amount of meat we ended up with, though, it seems clear that the recipe intends for you to use half of a 3 1/2 pound leg. In other words, you need about 1 3/4 pounds of meat. For those like us who don't regularly buy legs of lamb and have no idea how large they should be, it leaves a gray area.
Those points aside, the recipe is great. We loved the balance of the gamy lamb with the charred, fresh cucumbers. And the lemon and oregano in the marinade gave the kebabs a bright, zesty flavor that was nicely tempered by the creamy, cool feta-and-yogurt sauce.
Incidentally, we made a great second meal out of our the remainder of our leg of lamb by simply seasoning with salt, pepper and olive oil, then searing it briefly over high heat on the grill and then moving it to off of direct heat to cook until it was medium rare. We served it thinly sliced with an arugula salad. It was excellent and made us wonder why we aren't cooking with lamb more often.
Are you cooking with lamb? Have a favorite preparation? Let us know in the comments!
Active Time: 25 minutes. Total time: 55 minutes.
Makes 8; Serves 4.
FOR THE KEBABS
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from four lemons), plus 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1/2 boneless leg of lamb (3 1/2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut into 24 pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
FOR THE FETA SAUCE3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
4 ounces Greek yogurt (1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1. Make the kebabs. Combine oil, zest and juice, garlic, oregano and lamb in a nonreactive dish; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the feta sauce: Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until very smooth. Refrigerate.
3. Heat grill to medium-high. Thread lamb and cucumbers onto 8 metal skewers; finish each with a lemon wedge. Season with salt and pepper. Grill 10 to 12 minutes for medium-rare, flipping halfway through. Serve with sauce.