This weekend I am back home in Oregon for an extremely brief (we’re talking about 36 hours) visit. I’m checking out the open house at our wedding location and my mom and my sister are throwing me a bridal shower (which I am SUPER excited about because 1) I get to see all the women back home that I love and2) because my dad is making his spanikopita and hummus for us to eat. YAY GREEK FOOD!!!) So because I will be partaking in some tasty Greek food myself, I wanted to be able to share some tasty Greek food with all of you, as well!
I made these for the Greek Easter/Cinco de Mayo get together me and Jeremy had at our place a couple weeks ago and they were amazing. I’d wanted to make some kind of fusion dish since Jeremy is half Mexican and I am half Greek and Greek Easter and Cinco de Mayo hardly ever collide (I am taking this as a good omen since it happened the same year we’re getting married), and I’d been brainstorming about what to make for a while. Then one evening when we were having Chipotle for dinner (…their burrito bowls are delicious.) I was thinking about how much I loved their rice, and thought about how great it would be if I used lemon instead of lime and oregano instead of cilantro to give it a nice Greek flavor…and then a long string of thoughts about Mexican and Greek food followed and I decided upon the tasty recipe below.
I made the lamb filling two ways, with shanks and ground lamb, and then combined them, but feel free to keep them separate or just make one or the other. The first lamb filling is made from lamb shanks braised in white wine, olive oil, lemon juice, onions, garlic, and spices. It tastes wonderful but does take a bit longer to prepare (the roasting time is about 2.5-3 hours). The second lamb filling cooks much faster and is made up of ground lamb cooked in a pan with onions, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs. Both are equally delicious, the texture is definitely different, and of course there’s a nice white wine flavor to the lamb shanks and they do have a wonderful tenderness to them after being cooked so long.
For toppings, I used tzitziki, guacamole, lemon oregano rice, tomato slices, queso fresco, and cayenne. I used my dad’s tzitziki recipe from my family’s Greek cookbook and have included it in this post to share with all of you. It is wonderfully garlic-y and quite tangy, all the tzitzikis I’ve had at restaurants or from the store are not near as tangy or garlic-y as this one, so be prepared for a bit of a kick. The recipe below makes about 1 and 3/4 cup tzitziki, so you’ll have a little leftover for use as a spread and dip (head’s up, fried seafood tastes REALLY GOOD dipped in it.) Jeremy made the guacamole using an old family recipe of his that I posted about a while ago. This guacamole is…special. I find myself dreaming about eating it at nighttime. If you make it, I promise it will make you very, very happy.
Altogether, the different flavor and textural components of the burrito combined to create one of my favorite fusion dishes of all time, second only to the Korean barbecue taco,and that is just because I have a special thing for Korean barbecued pork. And if all the spreads and rice sound like too much work, feel free to just make yourself some tasty lamb shanks on their own. I had a few pieces while I was assembling everything and the meat came out so moist and flavorful that the dish can easily stand on its own.
Also, just a reminder that tickets are still on sale for my spring cleaning event with Kinfolk Magazine. Come join me! There will be homemade spring treats for all!
Lamb Burritos with Lemon Oregano Rice and Homemade Tzitziki
- To make the tzitziki, cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise. Take a spoon and scoop out the seed pulp in the middle, throw the seed mixture away. Grate the cucumber halves on the large hole setting, 1/4 inch in diameter, or a cheese grater or food processor.
- Set out two medium sized bowls. Grab a handful of the grated cucumbers and press your hands together over one of the bowls, squeezing out as much of the water as possible. Place the handful of dry cucumbers in the second bowl. Repeat this process until all of the grated cucumber has been drained of excess water. If you want a refreshing drink, you can combine the cucumber juice with a bit of chilled water, otherwise discard the juice from the cucumber.
- Empty the yogurt into a large bowl. Mix in the shredded cucumber, garlic, olive oil, white vinegar, salt, and black pepper with a large wooden spoon. Stir until well blended. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
- To make the lamb shanks, give them a good rubbing with1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the oregano. Place in a casserole pan, cover, and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the pan from the refrigerator, remove the covering, and mix in the remaining ingredients. Place in the oven and cook for 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours, flipping the shank over halfway through and basting it every 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool until safe to handle. Carve the meat from the bone and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Place in a bowl for serving.
- To make the ground lamb, heat the onions in the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until they begin to look transparent, about 10-15 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the lamb meat is browned, breaking it apart with the end of your spoon. Once cooked, remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
- To make the rice, heat the water, rice, lemon juice, oregano, oil, and salt in a large thick-bottomed saucepan over high heat until boiling. Once it boils, reduce the heat to a simmer cover, and allow to simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked. Remove the pot from the heat and, keeping it covered, allow it to rest for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.
- To assemble the burrito, place a smear of guacamole on the tortilla, add the desired amount of rice, add the desired amount of lamb, add a couple tablespoons of tzitziki, and top with queso fresco, a couple tomato slices, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Wrap up, and serve immediately.