Many nations or regions known for their cuisines are also known for some sort of booze. In Japan it’s sake, in Korea it’s soju, in Ireland it’s whiskey, in Mexico it’s tequila, and… you get the drift. In Greece, it’s Ouzo.
Ouzo has strong notes of black licorice and, like lots of drinks we’re not accustomed to, it can be a bit of an acquired taste. That’s why this week, we’re sneaking it into some tzatziki — a Greek yogurt and cucumber-based sauce. The tzatziki can be made well ahead of time. It should just get better with time as the flavors meld together, but be sure to store it in the fridge. Tzatziki is the perfect accompaniment for lamb, so we grilled up some blade chops. They have one (or two) bones that are easy to remove once the meat has finished and is easy to slice. Lamb chops also have plenty of fat, which will add a nice flavor to the end product.
We served our lamb and Ouzo tzatziki with grilled pita bread, onions, lettuce, tomatoes and more cucumbers (because we have a ton this time of year), to create a sort of gyro platter. Oh, and more Ouzo. Because always more booze, right?
Ouzo Tzatziki Sauce
1 cucumber, peeled and with the seeds removed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 shot Ouzo
½ cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
1 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste
Place the cucumber in a food processor and blend until it becomes a puree. Add the garlic lemon juice, Ouzo, yogurt, sour cream, and mayo, and pulse until combined. Add the mint and dill and pulse until combined. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
2-3 pounds lamb blade chops, arm chops, or your favorite cut
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
¼ cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Combine the lamb chops with the dill, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper and allow to marinate for at least an hour or overnight in the fridge.
Set up your charcoal grill for indirect grilling with the coals raked to one side. Sear the lamb chops and then move them to the other side of the grill. Place the lid on the grill and allow the chops to cook indirectly for about 30 minutes, until they are done. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes. Cut into slender slices and serve with the tzatziki sauce, pita bread, sliced cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes as well as copious amounts of Ouzo.
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