Merguez Sausage with Harissa Sauce and Swiss Chard with Olives & Capers

Generally, when I think of lamb – I cringe. Growing up, my only experience was when I would go to my grandparents’ house. My grandmother would broil the Hell out of it, then slathered mint jelly on top. It was disgusting.

But that changed, when I tasted the Scott Snyder‘s “Chefwich Series” sandwich at Lardo. The sandwich was Moroccan lamb meatball (basically, merguez sausage without the casing) with black olive mayo, harrisa carrot slaw and feta served on a baguette – sort of a Middle Eastern bánh mì. It was amazing.

I had been wanting to experiment with merguez, when I stumbled upon a yogurt harrissa sauce that sounded like it would be a good match. Also, any excuse to go to CHOP – who produce the best charcuterie in town.

For a side dish, I went for the Lemony Swiss Chard with Fried Olives, Capers and Garlic – as well as some Garlic Flatbread.

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And to drink: the Spruce by Propolis Brewing – a beer brewed with Spruce Tips.

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Tandoori Lobster with Saag Paneer and Grilled Garlic Naan

I don’t know what I was thinking when I came up with this dish. I was unemployed at the time, and maybe I was just bored.

I took a Tandoori Chicken recipe from Neelam Batra’s 1,000 Indian Recipes but instead of using chicken, I used lobster tail. This recipe also works with steak (but marinate for at least 8 hours). The Saag Paneer recipe I got from a Hipcooks class I took not too long ago.

Tandoori Lobster:

2 lobster tails – shells removed
1 tbsp of minced garlic
1 tbsp of minced ginger
⅓ cup of greek yogurt
2 tbsp of heavy cream
1 tbsp of peanut oil – divided
1 tsp of garam masala
1 tsp of fenugreek leaves (AKA kasoori methi)
½ tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp of paprika
¼ tsp of cayenne
⅛ tsp of turmeric

Mix the minced garlic, minced ginger, gram masala, fenugreek leaves and cumin with the yogurt and ½ tbsp of peanut oil in a non-reactive bowl. Preferably, something that has an air tight cover.

In a small nonstick pan, heat ½ tbsp of peanut oil over medium-high heat until hot – but not smoking. Remove from heat, and add the paprika, cayenne and turmeric. Stir until a paste forms. Mix into the yogurt mixture above.

Remove the lobster tails from their shells. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut down the back of the tail. This will allow you to pop the shell open, and take the tail out whole. Be careful, the edges of the shell will be sharp.

Put lobster tails into the yogurt mixture, and marinate for three to four hours.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat (375° – 400°). Using a basting brush, brush off as much of the marinade is possible. Grill for about 3 minutes per side, and baste with Cilantro Garlic Butter often. Serve immediately. The lobster tails cool down fast.

Garlic Butter:

½ stick of salted butter
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of chopped cilantro (optional)

Mix in a cast-iron basting pot and place on heated grill. Use for basting the lobster and Trader Joe’s Frozen Garlic Naan. Grill the naan for 4 to 5 minutes a side, brushing with the garlic butter mixture.

Saag Paneer:

1 bag chopped frozen spinach
1½ tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp ground cumin
5 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, diced
½ tbsp of garam masala
One inch piece of ginger, minced
Salt
Chili flakes
½ lb. paneer, cubed
½ cup of Greek yogurt

Heat oil, add cumin while heating. When oil starts to crackle, add garlic, and cook until golden brown. Add onion, sauté until light brown, then add minced spinach, ginger and garam masala and sauté until pan is dry. Add salt, chili flakes and paneer. Then add the Greek yogurt.

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Recommend beverage: Commons Urban Farmhouse.

Fried Pigs’ Ears Salad

The idea came to me after reading that Beaker & Flask closed. That restaurant had fried pigs’ ears on their menu – and they were amazing. So now I needed to figure out how to do them myself. As for the salad part of the equation, that idea I stole from Levant – but I switched the pigs’ ears for the lamb bacon. Plus, I was looking for an excuse to get some pigs’ ears from Tail & Trotters.

For the fried pigs’ ears, I used this recipe from Serious Eats. I would recommend boiling the ears for at least 3 hours. Also. ignore that bit about getting the oil to 350° and just get your oil as hot as you can. Have a lid handy for the pot, because they’re going to spit oil everywhere. And as soon as you take the strips out of the oil, give them a heavy coat of sea salt.

As for the salad, I used some butter lettuce, shaved Easter egg radishes, shaved English cucumber and a Crème Fraîche Dill dressing (loosely based on this recipe) and topped the whole thing off with some thinly sliced chives.

I served this with “The Slab” from Little T Bakery with some Aleppo Honey Butter (another idea I stole from Levant. Use this recipe, and just substitute Aleppo for the cayenne). And I washed it down with a Logsdon Farms’ Kili Wit.