Spring time is when our stores are bursting with lamb and I thought about making a delicious recipe for Turkish Lamb Chops. We visited Turkey a few years ago and I just couldn’t get enough of all their delicious food. Their menus do contain a lot of grilled meats and Lamb is definitely a favorite.
You may know that I was born in the Middle East, in Abu Dhabi to be specific and spent my early adult life working and living in Dubai. Dubai is very cosmopolitan and besides being home to multiple nationalities from all over the world, it’s also a haven for it’s neighboring Arab nationals – Lebanese, Egyptians, Jordanians just to name a few …. and of course the Turks. The flavors of these Arab countries are similar but different and my palate has learned to seek them out and cherish them.
These chops are going to be given a royal Turkish treatment!
Gobble Gobble! Cooking a Turkey is synonymous with feeding people you love. I always like to try something different each Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday and this year I made a Middle Eastern inspired Turkey. The bird is the star of the show and done right, it can be juicy and flavourful I love Turkey but I’m not crazy about the long cooking time, so this year I decided to drastically cut down the cooking time by Spatchcocking the Turkey. This means I will remove the spine so the Turkey can lay flat and cook in less time than it usually does.
If you’re never cooked a Turkey before, be sure to check the cavity of the bird. This is usually where they stash the neck and other parts of the Turkey. Store this in your fridge. I always like to use a fresh bird and I always brine my Turkey for 24 hrs. Brining ensures that the Turkey is flavourful and moist. This is a simple mixture of salt and sugar in 4 litres of water. I like to throw in some lemon slices before I immerse my bird in a bucket or container large enough to hold the bird. If you don’t have enough room in your fridge to hold this large container, you can sit this on your kitchen counter in cold water for two hours, or just skip this step. After the brining process you need to dry the bird out really well, I like to leave it in a colander to drain and I will follow that with a tea towel and wipe all the excess moisture. It’s important that your bird is dry, otherwise it will steam in the oven.
Spatchcocking the Turkey was a bit harder than I imagined, I have spatchcocked many a Chicken, but the Turkey bones are much tougher. To watch this video make sure to click the link in this post.
Once the Turkey was ready I prepared a wonderful spice blend with the best of Middle Eastern flavours. My bird is about 12 lbs so I should be cooking this for about 3 hrs and 45 mins, but because it’s spatchcocked, it’s only going to take 1.5 to 2 hrs. I’m going to start at 350 and increase the heat to 450 when I take the lid off. If you find it’s browning too quickly in your oven, cut the heat back.
Since I was born in the Middle East, these flavours touch my soul from the flavours and ingredients like Sumac, Pomegranate Molasses, Parsley, Thyme, Oregano, Paprika, Garlic, Lemon, Pickled Turnips and Halloumi of the Middle East are captured in one delicious and colourful salad. I love to make this in the summer time as an accompaniment to some BBQ’d meat or take this as a contribution to a pot luck. There are so many colours and textures in this salad that it’s literally a party on a plate.
Growing up in Abu Dhabi we got the most delicious Arabic food, from mouth watering kebabs, to creamy hummus and everything in between. And the Arabs do know how to party, take a trip into the desert for a night safari and you will taste the most amazing food cooked right in the outdoors.
This salad has a fair bit of prep work but is very easy to assemble at the last minute. It uses exotic ingredients like Zaatar and Halloumi and using the bbq to grill some of these really had a special flavour for the salad. Arabic Pita bread is a lot thinner that it’s more famous Greek counterpart. If you can’t find this, you can use Greek pita instead. This salad also includes Burghul wheat which is cracked wheat that gives a wonderful nutty flavour. To make this Gluten free, omit the Pita bread, or use Gluten free pita and omit the Burghul wheat and substitute it for Quinoa. Halloumi is an Arabic cheese made from Sheep milk. It has a very high melting point and can be grilled on the BBQ. I like to call it the ‘squeaky’ cheese as it makes a squeaky sound when you chew it.
I was introduced to Couscous many years ago and love the ease of it’s preparation.Couscous are granules of durum wheat. It comes in various sizes and is popular in North Africa and the Middle East. It is cooked by soaking in hot water to rehydrate. This recipe is a spiced and flavorful version with paprika, cumin, tomato paste, sumac, pomegranate molasses and fresh parsley and mint and cucumber and tomatoes and red peppers. It is finished with crumbled feta cheese.
In the summertime, we host a lot of BBQ’s and impromptu get togethers and I always lean towards this recipe to serve with my latest recipe off the grill. It screams summer and freshness!