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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Greek Tacos

Ron and I used to watch a lot of the reality t.v. food shoes. Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen's Nightmares, MasterChef, Kitchen Impossible, Dinner Impossible, Great Food Truck Race, that show where "Soul Daddy" won three restaurants but then they shut them down within weeks of opening, including the Minneapolis location, and ripped that poor guy's dreams right out from under him and never spoke about it again, NBC Fail. But then we realized that the majority of them annoyed us. We'd actually allow them to back up on the DVR and consume nearly all of our space. Then we'd get stressed out when we realized we had an entire season of the show to watch. It was a nightmare. We hated watching them: the drama, the smoking, the not-so-subliminal advertising plugs... so finally, we pulled the plug. But we did stick with one show: the Next Food Network Star.
I'm not sure why we enjoy this show. Maybe because there is some "reality" to it. The chefs are actually cooking their own recipes. They are telling their own stories. They actually win something (did you know: most winners on Hell's Kitchen don't get to enjoy the luxury of being an 'executive chef' at the winning location, many don't even get one foot in the door!). And we've watched for the past three seasons and enjoyed the winners. Oddly enough, we usually don't always end up watching the winner's show. I catch a few of them on occasion, but I don't make it a necessity to watch Food Network at 6 a.m. P.S.T. on a Sunday. However, I have tried their recipes and thoroughly enjoyed them. (We made Aarti's Mango Pulled Pork a few weeks ago. I tweeted about it, she tweeted me back, it was awesome.)

But we have been watching the most recent winner, Jeff, on a consistent basis. He's theme was "the Sandwich King" and we love sandwiches in this house. His show is new, so it's rocky, but Ron and I actually enjoy watching it. Ron says that it is actually stuff he can do in the kitchen. But Jeff takes us on journeys to restaurants around his Chicago home, so, well... we know I'm a fan. Jeff's show is on Sundays at 11:30am/10:30c. For years, sandwiches were all that I ate for lunch and most dinners. So, it's exciting to watch someone who is passionate about making sandwiches into something special. Sure, his sandwich recipes often take longer than an actual non-sandwich meal to make. But who cares! His concept takes your general ideas about sandwiches: lunch meat, slices of tomato/lettuce, and bread and takes any meal and turns it into a sandwich. We recently tried out these Greek Tacos and thoroughly enjoyed them. My mom loves gyros so I know she'll love these. The home-made tzatziki sauce was amazing and so easy to make! I'm excited to try more of Jeff's sandwiches.
Greek Tacos
from Food Network, Jeff Mauro
Yield: the recipe said 4, but I think this serves like 8!
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp dry red wine
Feta Mint Tzatziki:
  • 1 english cucumber
  • salt
  • 1 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh mint
Cucumber Tomato Relish:
  • 1 Tbsp evoo
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 firm tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 english cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • freshly ground black pepper
Sandwich Build:
  • Non-pocket pitas, oiled and lightly griddled on each side (or just use microwave to soften)
  1. For the Lamb: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the lamb, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until the meat gets nice and golden brown, 10-12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the lamb and reserve. Lower the heat to medium and saute the onions in the lamb juice until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano and garlic and cook until fragrant. Season. Add the tomato paste and cook until it caramelizes. Deglaze with the red wine and scrape any bits up that have adhered to the pan. Add the lamb back in, stir and set aside.
  2. For the Tzatziki: Grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater and place in a fine-meshed strainer or cheesecloth fitted over a bowl. Salt the cucumber and let sit for 10 minutes. Then squeeze out any excess moisture. Add the strained cucumber into a bowl with the yogurt, feta, garlic and mint. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
  3. For the Cucumber Tomato Relish: Toss the olive oil, vinegar, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in a bowl, adjusting the seasoning as necessary. Cover and let sit for at least 1 hour.
  4. To Build: Schmear the tzatziki on the pitas, then place on the lamb and top with cucumber tomato relish. Enjoy!

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