Camp + Cook: Lindsey Bareham – Persian Kebabs with Beetroot and Anchovy Salad

Persian Kebabs

I had a completely differently post planned for today. But it’s 25 degrees in London and no-one wants to think about woollen blankets from the Netherlands no matter how beautiful they are! So I’m skipping to our new Camp + Cook featuring recipes from the wonderful Lindsey Bareham’s new book The Trifle Bowl and Other Tales. I have enjoyed Bareham’s cooking since I bought her delightful book The Big Red Book of Tomatoes way back in 2000. This recipe is divine and a great one for the campfire this gorgeously hot weekend, or even for your backyard BBQ if you’re not lucky enough to be camping this weekend.

“It’s always intriguing to come across a recipe with a seemingly random ingredient that proves to be the making of the dish,” says Bareham. “That’s the case with these gorgeously meaty kebabs, and bicarbonate of soda is the curiosity. While its effect seems to encourage stickiness, you will get the best results if the mix of the minced lamb and beef is quite fatty to retain moisture and juiciness. The meat is seasoned only with grated onion, salt, pepper and the bicarb. It is kneaded like dough and ends up almost like a paste that is easily formed into big, fat sausages to thread on flat stainless steel skewers. As the kebabs cook, they are basted with melted butter seasoned with crushed garlic and a hint of lime. the last of the butter is mixed with chopped parsley to give a bright green finish to the Persian-style koobideh. Serve with rice, pickled green chillies, crusty bread, hummus and this agrodolce beetroot salad livened up with anchovies. The latter is also very good with hard-boiled eggs or feta cheese.”

Here’s the what:

2 medium onions

500g minced lamb, preferably shoulder

500g minced beef

2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

125g unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, crushed

a squeeze of lime or lemon

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

For the beetroot salad:

approx 900g medium-small beetroot

1 large lemon

2 red onions, approx 200g

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp dried crushed chillies

1 tbsp Belazu balsamic vinegar

200g sun-drenched/sun-blushed tomatoes in oil

10 pickled garlic cloves, from a jar

1 tbsp capers

100g Adriatic anchovy fillets

1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Here’s the how:

Peel and halve the onions. Grate on the large hole of a box grater into a mixing bowl. Add the minced meat, salt, pepper and bicarb. Mix, then knead with your hands for 5 minutes until smooth and almost like a paste. Leave for 15 minutes at room temperature, then, with damp hands, form into 10 or 12 small orange-size balls. Roll into sausage-shapes, transferring them to a plate as you go. Cover with cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. (I would do this before going camping and keep them in my cooler). Thread on to flat skewers when you are ready to cook.

Make the baste by melting the butter, then stir in the crushed garlic and a squeeze of lime. When the coals are ready (or the ridged griddle very hot), BBQ without resting the meat on the grill if possible, i.e. with one end of the skewer on the back edge and the other on the front. Baste with melted butter as you turn the kabobs, cooking until done to your liking. Mix the parsley into the last of the butter and smear the kebabs before serving.

To make the salad, cook the unpeeled beets in boiling, salted water in a covered pan for about 20 minutes, until just tender to the point of a knife. Drain, then slip into your Marigolds and rub off the skin. With fork and knife, trim away any stalk and cut the beets into kebab-sized chunks. Squeeze the lemon over the top and season with salt and the chilli flakes. Cook for a couple of minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook briefly until syrupy.

Tip the tomatoes into a sieve to drain. Slice the garlic into think rounds. Add the prepared beets, tomatoes, capers and garlic into thick rounds. Add the prepared beets, tomatoes, capers and garlic. Stir, then tip on to a platter. Decorate with anchovy fillets and garnish with parsley.

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