Ok, so we suddenly have, shall we say, a whole pantload of cucumbers! What to do, what to do… Can’t preserve much of them, can’t give them all away, so gotta get cookin’. first thing that comes to mind for me is Tzatziki, just ’cause I do love it so. Secondly, we wanted something cool, ’cause it’s bloody 100+ outside and we neither need a bunch of cooking heat nor hot food on days like this, eh?
So off to the market, with a vague idea of a Greek themed dindin. I saw no lamb, so I settled on pork and beef, both USDA Choice, which they had as a Buy-1-Get-3-Free deal, so I bought three of each, of course. Snagged some very nice Greek yoghurt and some flatbread. No Retsina in sight, so a dry white wine, and back to the kitchen I went. I decided to make the protein as Greek-Like as a could and work from there. Here’s what I came up with.
50%-50% cuts of beef and pork
Salt & Pepper
Note: I did this as sausage ’cause I have an attachment for our Kitchenaid – If you don’t, fret not – Just cut stuff to about 1/2″ and go with that, it’ll be fine – You won’t need to freeze/chill the flesh if you go this route, but limit its time outside the fridge strictly for food safety considerations.
Remove meat from packages, cube to about 1.5″ and throw them into the freezer for about 15 minutes. Throw another stainless bowl in there too, to catch the finished product. When making sausage, or really, any forcemeat, keeping your ingredients really cold all throughout the process is critical: This is necessary first and foremost to keep the proteins under 40°F and thus out of the Food Temperature Danger Zone. Secondly, it helps make a more homogenous end product with better taste and texture.
I grabbed the herbs from the garden, of course, (Which you should do too, by the way…) Field strip herbs and chiffenade/mince. Remove protein from freezer, coat liberally with oil, add herbs, garlic, salt and pepper, mix well.
Process through grinder with the wider of the two plates provided. Use chilled bowl for catching the finished sausage and return finished product to the fridge ASAP.
I cooked off the sausage in a saute pan, and M came home as I was doing so – I knew I’d done OK when the first words out her mouth were “Oh that smells soooo good!”
Now for the magic ingredient…
1 8 oz container of Greek Yogurt, (You can use regular too)
1 med cucumber
2 tbspn olive oil
Juice from 1/2 to 1 lemon, (As you like it)
1 tspn dill, chopped fine, (You can sub spearmint)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt to taste
If you don’t have Greek Yoghurt, plain will do, but find Greek if you can; it is richer, tangier and thicker, all of which are good things when it comes to Tzatziki.
Line a colander or strainer with paper towel and drain the yogurt for 15 to 30 minutes; this is critical in avoiding a runny final product.
Peel, seed and grate cucumber. We used Armenian from our garden, which have wonderful taste and nice, firm flesh. Any decent cuke will do, but make sure it is nice and firm!
Combine everything and mix well by hand, as blending or processing will make your yogurt break down.
Place in a non-reactive bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Let the sausage cool along with the Tzatziki.
Cut up veggies of your choice for garnish – We went with yellow bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, lettuce, onion, and pimento stuffed green olives – Talk about yummy!
Grill or toast flatbread. I wanted flatbread we could open and stuff like a Gyro, but the stuff I found wouldn’t do that, so we just cut grilled wedges and called it good. If you like cheese, then Feta or Mizithra would rock with this – We didn’t want to cloud the wonderful Tzatziki, so we left it off of ours.
Pile everything on and απολαύστε – εύγευστος!
(Enjoy – Delicious!)