Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lamb Kafta Sliders

     Gourmet Slider Mania Is Far From Over!
     Many great chefs have created gourmet slider entrees in recent years.  The trend of top flight chefs making gourmet street food began during the Great Recession of 2007.  People seek cheap delicious food when times are tough.  Gourmet street food certainly fits the bill of fare!
     Gourmet sliders are fun food and this medium offers room for creativity.  Just about any kind of meat, wild game and seafood can be used to make sliders.  Vegetable or fried cheese sliders are within bounds too.
     What the slider lands on is important.  The choice of bread should reflect upon the cuisine style of the featured protein.  For example, Steam Buns are good for fusion style sliders and Focaccia Rolls are perfect for Italian style veal sliders.  For a Middle Eastern style slider, Pita Bread (Khubz Arabi) is a good choice of bread.
     Kafta is perfect for making gourmet sliders, because the complex flavor is intriguing.  There are as many ways to spell Kafta as there are Kafta recipes.  Some regional recipes require spelling the word with a specific dialect.  Most regional Kafta recipes require similar ingredients, but the proportions of the ingredients may vary.  Kafta seasoning mixes tend to be traditional.  Many family recipes for Kafta spice mix have been used for many generations.
     Pork is never used in Middle Eastern cuisine, but wild game is for the most part acceptable.  Kafta spice mix mellows the flavor of strong tasting meats, like ground wild game meat.  Lamb can be strong tasting too and Kafta spices tame the flavor.
     The sliders in the photos were conservatively garnished with just sliced tomato.  Feel free to use your imagination to garnish the sliders even more, but remember that the focus of guests will be placed upon the flavor of the Kafta spiced lamb.  Roasted eggplant or fried fenugreek greens might add a nice garnishing touch.
     Containers of blended Kaftah Spice Mixture can be bought pre-made at a Mediterranean food market.  Spices that are bought at an Arabic market are always very fresh and aromatic.  I like pre-made Kaftah Spice Mix, because it costs less than buying all the necessary spices separately.  For a cook who is not familiar with the Middle Eastern flavors, a pre-made Kafta Spice Mix will educate the palate.

     Kaftah Spice Mixture:
     This recipe yields about 2 1/2 tablespoons.
     It is much cheaper to buy Kaftah Spice Mix pre-made.  In case there are no Mediterranean food markets in your area, then this basic recipe may be handy.  There are many variations of Kafta Spice Mix, so there really is no solitary definitive recipe.
     Step 1:  Place 2 teaspoons of cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of allspice.
     Add 1 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add 1 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 1 teaspoon of mild red chile powder.  (Spanish Paprika)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of mace.
     Add 1 teaspoon of finely ground toasted sesame seed.  (optional)
     Step 2:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Store the spice mix in a sealed container, so the flavors are preserved.
     Lamb Kafta Sliders:
     This recipe yields 3 sliders.  (1 portion)
     Step 1:  Place 6 ounces ground lamb in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 minced clove of garlic.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely minced onion.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Kaftah Spice Mixture.
     Thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Divide the lamb kafta mixture into 3 equal portions.
     Use a 2 1/2" wide steel ring mold to form 3 slider patties.
     Step 3:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium heat.
     Season the griddle with 1/2 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Place the 3 lamb kafta slider patties on the griddle.
     Grill the kafta patties on both sides, till they are fully cooked .  Be sure to flip the patties a few times, so they brown evenly.
     Step 4:  Place the cooked kafta patties on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess grease.
     Step 5:  Cut a medium size warm pita bread (khubz arabi) into 3 pie shaped wedges that are slightly larger than the kafta slider patties.
     Use your fingers to open the pita bread.
     Step 6:  Place a thin slice of plum tomato in each pita piece.
     Place the sliders on the tomato in each pita piece.
     Step 7:  Set the sliders on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with:
     - parsley sprigs
     - pickled wild cucumber
     - pickled mild red chile pepper

     The flavor and aroma of Lamb Kafta is captivating.  These are some great tasting lamb sliders!

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