It’s war in Turkish barbecue and Adana has fired the first salvo. The grill masters of Turkey’s fourth largest city have trademarked their spicy ground lamb kebab that’s flavored with the blood-red flakes of a local chile pepper named for a town in nearby Syria, Aleppo. The move outraged grill masters in the rival city of Gaziantep, an ancient Silk Road trading post equally renowned for its grilled ground lamb kebabs—one version flavored with local hot peppers, others made with the surreally green local pistachio nuts or a variety of fragrant seasonal fruits. Of course, these are just two barbecue hot spots in a country where grilling is a national obsession and ancient art, not to mention the birthplace, linguistically speaking at least, of shish kebab, which takes its name from the Turkish words for sword, shish, and meat, kebab.
The basic recipe for all Turkish ground lamb kebabs starts with chopped meat from the shoulder, leg, or breast, depending on the preference of the grill master, and waxy white tail fat; the flavorings are custom mixed. Each type of kebab goes on its own skewer—a narrow metal strip, a wide metal strip, a square bar, and so on—so the grill master can tell the cooked kebabs apart. If you like your lamb crusty on the outside, spice-blasted and succulent inside, and served sizzling hot off the coals, these kebabs have your name on them.
Once you have mastered the basics of Turkish ground lamb kebabs—the ratio of meat to fat, how to mold the meat on the skewer, grateless grilling, and so on—you can make an almost endless variety of skewers. This is exactly what
© 2010 All rights reserved. Published by Workman Publishing.