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Lamb Kefta Kebabs with Harissa Tzatziki

Serves 4

Lamb and Pinot Noir is a classic pairing, and this is a creative and exotic take on that combination. The bright raspberry and cherry flavors and hint of earthiness in the Amici Pinot Noir are a perfect balance to the exotic spices in this flavorful Middle Eastern-inspired dish.

For the Kefta Kebabs:

  • 2 tsp cumin seed
  • 2 tsp coriander seed
  • ¼ tsp whole white pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • ¼ cup yellow onion, minced
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon (approximately 1 Tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 pita bread circles, halved
  • 12 ea 4” wooden skewers, soaked in water several hours

Place the cumin, coriander, white pepper and red pepper flakes in a stainless steel sauté pan. Toast the spices over medium heat until a small amount of smoke begins to emanate from the pan. Immediately remove the spices from the pan, adding the oregano while the spices are still warm, and allow the mixture to cool. When cooled, place the spice mixture into a spice grinder and process until the mixture is ground.

Place the ground lamb in a large bowl and add the freshly ground spice mix and the remaining ingredients. Mix the ingredients well and marinate for at least four hours.

Divide the meat into twelve equal amounts. Roll the meat into a cylindrical shape, roughly the length of the skewer. Insert the skewer into the middle of the meat, and gently tighten it onto the skewer, creating a 3” long sausage shaped skewer. Lightly flatten the meat so it is just flat on both sides. The meat may seem loose on the skewer, but will firm up when cooked. Cook the skewers, turning frequently, over a hot grill until fully cooked, about 3-4 minutes per side.

For the Harissa Tzatziki:

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp fennel seed, toasted and ground
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp harissa (Tunisian hot chili sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Slice the peeled and seeded cucumber into ½–inch pieces. Place the sliced cucumber into a colander in the sink and toss with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Allow them to sit on the salt for about one hour. Rinse the cucumbers well, drain and dry them on paper towels. Place the cucumbers into a food processor and pulse until the cucumbers are finely chopped but not puréed.

Place the yogurt and mayonnaise into a medium-sized bowl. Add the processed cucumbers, the toasted and ground fennel seed, the cumin, and the harissa into a bowl. Gently fold together the ingredients and chill for an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

Serve Lamb Kefta Kebabs in warm pita rounds topped with Harissa Tzatziki, accompanied by Amici Cellars Pinot Noir Russian River Valley.