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We’ve discussed inspiration and adaptation in this space before but boy howdy were both called upon for today’s meal.
I had this whole elaborate, kick fucking ass meal all planned, had the ingredients bought, purchased a new kitchen tool or two to help in the preparation and I was all set to go!
Then the weather told me to go fuck myself.
I live on the coast for a reason. Having the Pacific Ocean in your backyard is a very, very cool thing to have. I mean in several ways. It’s awe inspiring to walk along the beach in the mornings, it’s great having this “surfer vibe” all around but mostly it’s fucking COOL, as in temperature-wise. The marine layer usually rolls over the top of us and we have this nice cool, grey blanket over us for much of the year. Just delightful. Although on occasion high pressure rolls over us, or the Santa Ana winds blow the hot air from inland over us and the temperatures will rise. The day I made this meal was one of those days.
The initial recipe would have involved some inside cooking with the oven and stove top both going and when the temperature got to about 80 inside the house I told myself there is no way in motherfucking HELL I am turning on that oven. Just like that, the menu changed.
The inspiration came when I realized that I was going to grill outside and I needed to come up with something that wouldn’t be too heavy and I needed to have some sides, condiments and “accoutrements” that would also require no cooking. Then inspiration struck!
This original recipe was created by Sarah Sprague on the former mother blog who shall remain nameless. (Warning that link goes to the UPXXXX site and if you are opposed to giving them clicks I’ve got an alternate link right back to here.) Sarah was the first person to introduce me to the spice mix za’atar and I am forever grateful.
Now, before you say “What the shit is this? A repeat?!!” I will be giving you a brand new recipe that will blow your goddamn minds. There’s a hint if you compare the banner image to the picture just above. Also, remember that heat thing I was just talking about? I had to think quick and it came back to this.
Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture made from sesame seeds, sumac and some other spices. My linked recipe has the za’atar recipe in it but I use freshly toasted sesame seeds, sumac, thyme and salt that I grind together in a spice grinder, actually it’s a coffee bean grinder. When freshly prepared it produces a rich, floral, tantalizing smell that is quite captivating. Every single menu item today has some za’atar in it. Except for the beer because that would be a little too funky.
Looking at the banner image working clockwise from center left we have New Recipe, garlic yogurt dipping sauce, a tasty IPA from my boys down at the El Segundo brewery (more on that later), the red onion relish, and the grilled za’atar chicken. Yes the recipes for everything but the new recipe can be found in my earlier linked Sunday Gravy post so I won’t get too redundant by restating them here. Since I know most of my readers are super intelligent, worldly and food savvy you have probably guessed the new food recipe from the banner image.
I just fucking love hummus. I’ve usually got some in my refrigerator at home at pretty much any time.
This is my usual jam right here.
It should come as absolutely no surprise that I go for the Supremely Spicy version. If you kids have followed along at home you know I can seriously fuck around with the “heat.” I am a huge fan of spicy foods.
Today’s hummus however is not spicy. It is a more basic hummus so don’t you be frettin’ if you have a low tolerance for capsaicin.
I’ve been a fan of hummus since the first time I ever tried it, which was probably about 10 or so years ago. Yep, late to the hummus game just like I’ve been a little late to a LOT of cuisines. I’m hoping I can reach some of the younger readers and get them to expand their culinary worlds and try new things. Despite how much I love hummus, I have never made it at home. The fuck is wrong with me? The ingredients are simple and I love to experiment in the kitchen, the fuck?
There are two reasons actually: until just recently I’ve never owned a food processor and holy shit you will need a goddamn food processor to make this dish, the second reason? It’s kind of a pain in the ass to make correctly.
When doing my recipe research I came across a couple of different hummus camps. The first says you throw all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse away for a couple of minutes until smooth. The other camp says if you don’t remove the skins from the canned garbonzo beans you will totally fucking destroy the proper texture. Being one who likes to get things right on the first try I figured I could take this simple step and get the texture right.
It is not a simple step.
It’s a goddamn pain in the ass.
Do you know how many beans are in one of those 15 ounce cans? A goddamn shit ton. That’s an American shit ton and not a metric shit tonne for those counting.
I mean, look at this!
This shit took me about half an hour of work to remove the damn skins. But look again and enlarge the image. See that. That was a big ass handful of some seriously tough skins. It would most definitely fuck with the final texture.
So yeah, you’re going to want to remove the skins. Sorry.
The inspiration and original recipe that I adapted slightly came from here Inspiredtaste.net. Thanks for the inspiration guys. This recipe says it’s OK to not take the skins off the beans but I suggest you do.
1 15.5 ounce can of garbonzo beans, also called chickpeas. reserve the bean juice from the can for the hummus also.
Juice from 1 large lemon
1/4 cup of tahini – yes, I’ll get into that in a bit
1 clove of garlic. ONE CLOVE – minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil and some more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
Salt to taste
The reserved bean juice, it’s probably a little less than a quarter of a cup.
A sprinkling of za’atar for garnish
A couple of quick observations before we get started. I do fucking love hummus dearly but you know what? I don’t like garbonzo beans by themselves. Isn’t that goddamn peculiar? It’s true! Have you ever made 15 bean soup?
It’s mighty tasty but mine is actually 14 bean soup because I remove those fucking garbonzo beans. I think it’s the texture that I don’t like, they’re kind of waxy. No thanks. But when turned into hummus? Delicious!
You’re next question is invariably “What the fucking bloody hell is Tahini?”
Tahini is a condiment made from ground toasted sesame seeds. In reality it’s basically PEANUT BUTTER! Really! It’s a little thinner in consistency but it’s seriously just like peanut butter! What a fucking revelation! I ordered mine from Amazon. Of course.
And the one clove of garlic thing? As a life long member of the Church of There Can Never Be Too Much Garlic, show some restraint here. It’s a fairly delicate flavor and we don’t want to blow up it’s shit with too much garlic.
Back to the recipe! We’re going to combine these ingredients in the food processor in a specific order. First put the tahini and the lemon juice in the food processor and grind for about a minute. True story time! This was my first time ever using a food processor! Welcome to the modern world, Christ what a dipshit for waiting this long to own a food processor. After blending the first two ingredients add in the olive oil, some salt (about 1/2 teaspoon), the garlic and the cumin and grind away for about 30 seconds. Did I mention that food processors are really really fucking loud? Jesus, all this modern technology and you couldn’t quiet this noisy motherfucker down? Next add in about half of the SKINNED beans and grind for another minute.
WHAT? I CAN”T FUCKING HEAR YOU! THIS BASTARD IS LOUDER THAN A SLAYER CONCERT!
Remove the top of the food processor and scrape down the sides, add in the rest of the beans and about half of the reserved bean juice and grind for another minute. If the consistency is too thick add in the rest of the bean juice and pulse for another 30 seconds until you’ve reached the desired consistency. Scrape everything into a serving bowl and garnish with a little olive oil and the za’atar. Serve with pita chips or grilled pita that’s been cut into wedges. Here’s the photo one more time.
I made the hummus first before I started up the grill. After I took this photo I figured I would give it a little taste to make sure it was OK.
Holy fucking mother of shit, this bastard was glorious! This is the best hummus I have ever tasted and I’ve consumed a lot of hummus. Dear God is this good! We have a radio station in L.A. called KROQ and they still employ an old ass DJ named Rodney on the Rock and he would refer to this dish as “Godhead.” it really is that fucking good. Check out the hummus picture above and the hummus in the banner picture. I had done some serious damage to that hummus before it got to be dinner time. You’ll notice I tried to reshape, the hummus and had to re-garnish it because I devoured some of that shit.
Read my previous post on the preparation for the chicken. Again it requires overnight marinating. You can also make the red onion garnish ahead of time but it’s not entirely necessary.
So I fired up the coals, took the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator then made my two other condiments that go with this meal. The garlic sauce, also in the linked recipe and the glorious red onion relish.
Grill the chicken until done and let rest a few minutes. While the chicken is resting take some fresh pita bread or na’an and grill it on the charcoal grill. Trust me! Baste the bread with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a little za’atar on both sides.
Now finally about that beer in the banner image. That is a bomber of El Segundo Brewing Company’s Steve Austin’s Broken Skull IPA.
Yes, THAT Steve Austin.
The Stone Cold one himself worked with the boys at ESBC to create an IPA to his liking. Fun family story, my son-in-law owns a brewing supply company in Torrance and he sold Steve Austin his very first home brewing kit. Steve liked the craft beer scene so much he went to the brew masters in El Segundo to create his own. I really liked this beer. It’s very hop forward with a blast of Citra, Cascade and Chinook hops but it has a lighter, sort of a pale ale type finish. Very drinkable but do pay attention to the 6.7% ABV, this fucker will sneak up on you and drop the Stone Cold Stunner if you ain’t too careful.
So za’atar. Make some from scratch. I’ve been tooting the horn for Amazon enough that you should realize you can order the sumac and sesame seeds from them if you can’t find them at the grocery store. You can also order already made za’atar from Penzy’s but I really like to grind my own from scratch. If you check out the photo one last time!
The chicken has been marinated in za’atar, the hummus is sprinkled with za’atar as a garnish, the garlic dipping sauce has za’atar, the red onion relish has za’atar in it and even the na’an has been sprinkled with olive oil and za’atar.
Try this spice mix and you will create your own reasons to use it. It is earthy, exotic and just fucking delicious.
I want to take one last moment to thank Sarah Sprague from the former mother blog for introducing me to this amazing spice mix. You’re awesome, Sarah.
As far as that kick ass elaborate meal that I had to preempt because of the fucking heat? It’s coming as soon as I can turn the oven back on.
Finally, I’m going to raise a pint of this Broken Skull beer and propose a toast.
To Middle Eastern food and to peace in the Middle East in our time!
That’s not asking too much is it?
Thanks for reading.