Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Grilled Radicchio and Ancho Chilis

2 medium radicchio, quartered into wedges
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp light brown or turbinado sugar
salt and black pepper
1 poblano or ancho chili

Drizzle radicchio wedges and chili with olive oil, vinegar and season with salt, pepper and a light sprinkling of the sugar. Grill radicchio on cut side over medium-hot coals for about three minutes. Flip over to cook the other cut side of the radicchio and cover with foil. Continue grilling for about 5 minutes and carefully remove from the grill using a spatula to keep the wedges in tact. Grill the chili along with the radicchio turning occasionally. Allow to cool slightly and peel off the outer skin. Cut into strips for serving along with the radicchio.


Italian Cheese Salad with Tomato and Olives

1 ripe tomato, diced
3 Tbsp diced black olives
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves
2 oz crumbled aged Asiago cheese
2 oz crumbled ricotta salata cheese
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper

Combine ingredients in a bowl and set aside or refrigerate for later use. Best served at room temperature or just slightly chilled.


Lamb Burgers * Italian Cheese Salad * Grilled Radicchio w Ancho Chilis

The weather here in Georgia is kind of hit or miss. One day we're in short sleeves, the next day I see snow flurries. Still when the sun is shining, whether it's balmy or chilly, we're prone to breaking out our grill.

Following the success of our mega huge fat burgers from the week before, we decided to make another meal out of grilled, ground meat. This time, lamb burgers fragrant with lots of fresh oregano and fresh thyme -- the few survivors of last years gardening attempt.This simple meal is a good example of the whole being more than the sum of its parts. Each component was quickly put together and infused with layers of flavor. Fresh herbs and thin lemon slices give an aromatic dimension to the burgers.

The cheeses in the Italian Cheese Salad with Tomatoes and Olives can be switched up for whatever you have on hand -- we just happened to have ricotta salata and asiago, both of which have a nice toothiness and saltiness that happen to compliment tomatoes and lamb. The salad serves as both a garnish and a condiment in this dish.

The grilled radicchio, which is notoriously bitter -- is mellowed by what is essentially a drizzling of balsamic vinaigrette sweetened with just a bit of sugar. When the balsamic vinegar and the sugar on the radicchio meet the heat of the grill, they aid in the caramelization of the radicchio as well as provide some more moisture for a steam-grill cooking method. Both the caramelization and the steaming help to mellow out the radicchio which, by the time it hits the plate, practically melts. The simple yet delicious adddition of a fire roasted poblano or ancho pepper acts as a condiment and gives the dish a little bite, much like the lemon slices on the grilled lamb burgers.

Although the ingredients are pretty common, when pulled together, these lamb burgers accented with grilled radicchio and a salad of cheese, tomato and olives were a delicious nod to the flavors of the Mediterranean, but with some home spun simplicity. On the plate it took on the look of an open faced gyro, and definitely made for some knife and fork eating. MMMMMMM!


2 lbs. ground lamb
2-3 scallions, sliced (greens and whites)
3 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp garlic powder
salt and black pepper
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients except lemon, and form into patties about ½ inch thick and 3-4 inches wide. Makes about 8 patties. Top each patty with a lemon slice. Grill over medium-hot coals until desired doneness (medium rare to medium well), turning once.



Top each cooked burger with Italian cheese salad and serve with wedges of grilled radicchio and sliced grilled poblano pepper.