Lamb meatballs (kofte)

Kofte are highly-seasoned meatballs (lamb, beef or even bulghur) made in rounds, ovals, cigar-shapes, or formed around a skewer and grilled. The skewer presentation looks fantastic and is easy to do. Cooked this way the kofte fits into a pide (Turkish style pita, fluffy with a smattering of nigella seed) or flatbread easily.

They are often presented with charred halves of onions and long, thin green peppers (which looked a bit like a smaller Anaheim pepper) also grilled. If you can’t find pide, Happy Camel makes a soft pita which can substitute in a pinch.

Four Whistle Farm at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market is a good source for high-quality lamb — often fresh, not frozen.

  • 1 pkg ground lamb (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 T toasted cumin seed, smashed
  • 2 T dried Aleppo pepper (or a mixture of cayenne and Hungarian paprika)
  • ½ c minced fresh mint
  • ½ c minced parsley
  • ¼ c onion, coarsely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or to taste)
  • sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 1-2 pieces white bread, torn into small chunks and softened in water.
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • oil for brushing

Mix lamb with the herbs and spices in large bowl. Add torn bread and the beaten egg by hand, distributing evenly. Do not overwork, or the meatballs could become tough. Break off a small piece of the lamb mixture and cook in a hot skillet to check seasoning. Add more salt if needed. Refrigerate if not forming right away.

Take the meat out of the refrigerator and let warm for about 10 minutes. Preheat grill to 350ºF or prepare your charcoal. It’s ready when the coals have a light coat of ash, and you can hold your hand about 3 inches off the grill for about 4 seconds.

Divide the mixture into 6-8 pieces, by dividing in half or thirds, then again to make sure each portion is the same size to cook evenly.

Take each portion and, using your hand, shape along a flat skewer, making sure the meat is evenly distributed. Brush with oil and grill, turning once, until the lamb loses its pinkness and there is a nice crust on the exterior.

Serve as part of a mixed grill, or in a pide, hot or cold.

More recipes from Turkish Feast.