Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ode to the Sandwich

I grew up writing silly poems. Some families hike, some go camping, others play board games. We wrote silly poems very often about food. Yes, we were (and still are) a quirky bunch. We threw evocative language and traditional meter to the wayside in exchange for pure sophomoric entertainment.

I continue the trend with my Ode To The Sandwich (with recipe below).

Marbled pumpernickel
Thickly toasted white
Carbohydrates aplenty, have to take a bite

Turkey, pastrami
Liverwurst and onion
A concoction hefty enough even for Paul Bunyan

Aioli and horseradish
Mustard and mayo
Or nature’s condiments- simple lettuce and tomato

Make it a Ruben
Complete with Russian dressing
A deli style sandwich is hunger’s sweet blessing

An Italian meatball hero
A steak and cheese in Philly
A Greek gyro, topped with rich tzatziki

A pickle on the side
Or potato chips with salt
A lobster BLT, in my tracks I will halt

Lamb burger on a bun
A Cuban with shredded pork
Eat it with your hands, no need for spoon and fork

Grape jelly or peaches
Buck flavor tradition
Unconventional toppings, surpass the competition

Sticky or gooey
With cheese or peanut butter
Using Marshmallow Fluff yields a fluffernutter

Call it a Monte Cristo
Or a curry chicken Panini
Work the lunch-time magic, and you’ll be a sandwich Houdini

Charcoal-Grilled Greek-Style Lamb Pita Sandwiches with Tzatziki
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen

For Tzatziki Sauce:
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced fine (about 1/2 cup)
3/8 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

For Lamb Patties:
Vegetable oil for cooking grate
4 (8-inch) pocketless pita breads
1/2 small onion, chopped coarse (about 1/3 cup)
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 pound ground lamb

1 large tomato, sliced thin
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (about 1/2 cup)

For the Tzatziki Sauce: Combine cucumber, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and lemon juice in colander set over bowl and let stand 30 minutes. Combine thickened yogurt, drained cucumber, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, garlic, and mint in clean bowl.

For the Patties: If using charcoal- About 20 minutes before grilling, light large chimney starter filled 3/4 full with charcoal (4 1/2 quarts, or about 75 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Build modified two-level fire by arranging all coals over half of grill, making sure they are in even layer, leaving other half empty. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat grate until hot, about 5 minutes; scrape grate clean with grill brush. Dip wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe cooking grate. Grill is ready when side with coals is medium-hot (you can hold your hand 5 inches above grate for 3 to 4 seconds). If using propane grill- About 10 minutes before grilling, heat propane grill on medium heat. Just prior to grilling, scrape grate clean with grill brush. Dip wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; holding wad with tongs, wipe cooking grate.

Use quarter of fifth pita and tear into 1 inch pieces, and discard saving remaining part of pita for future use. (You should have about 1/4 cup pita pieces.) Process onion, lemon juice, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, and pita bread pieces in food processor until smooth paste forms, scraping down sides of workbowl as necessary, about 30 seconds. Transfer onion mixture to large bowl; add lamb and gently mix with hands until thoroughly combined. Divide mixture into 4 equal pieces and roll into logs. Gently flatten logs into rectangular patties, about 1/2 inch thick, 2 1/2 inches wide, and 7 inches long.

Place patties on hotter side of grill. Cook, turning once using spatula, until well browned and crust forms on each side, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer patties to plate. While patties rest, place pita in single layer on hotter side of grill. Cook, turning once, until each pita is thoroughly warmed and faint grill marks appear, 30 to 40 seconds. Remove pita from grill and wrap tightly with aluminum foil.

Spread 1/8 cup Tzatziki Sauce inside each pita. Put 1 patty in each pita and top with tomato slices, 1/2 cup shredded lettuce, and 2 tablespoons feta. Serve immediately.

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