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What to Cook Instead of a Whole Lamb on the Lawn

Dealing with post-movie cravings

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"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" can be enjoyed on so many levels - as a romance, as an exploration of an ethnic culture, as an excuse for descending on the local version of "Dancing Zorba's" and begging, "Feed me!"

If you do go to see the movie, it will definitely help to have on hand the following: A Greek restaurant nearby.

Failing this, you can prepare for the inevitable after-movie cravings by acquiring ouzo beforehand. You may also discover that you, perhaps for the first time in your life, really would like to have a freshly-dressed whole lamb broiling on your front yard. Failing that, however, try some souvlaki, a bit easier to manage than cooking the lamb and requiring far fewer explanations to the neighbors.

Diet conscious? This is a favorite low-carb recipe if you skip the pita bread:

Greek Souvlaki:

Marinade 1.5 pounds of lamb, pork, or beef cut into chunks. Let sit for at least an hour. Then string onto damp skewers with chunks of onion, red or yellow bell peppers, tomato, and zucchini. Brush with the remaining marinade and bake in a 325-degree over for about a half an hour. At intervals, brush the skewers with the remaining marinade. When done, retrieve marinade from the baking pan and serve on the table.

Greek Marinade:

1 cup Greek olive oil
1/8th cup white vinegar
About twenty turns of a fresh pepper grinder, or 2 teaspoons black ground pepper
3 tablespoons dried Greek oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon garlic powder
As much thinly-sliced fresh garlic as you want. I go heavy on the garlic - 7-8 good-sized cloves, mostly in paper-thin slices, some diced extremely fine.

Let the marinade sit for about a half an hour before adding the meat.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 small container sour cream
1 medium cucumber
1/8th cup fresh chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried mint, crumbled to a fine powder
1 teaspoon dried garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme.
As much fresh thinly-sliced garlic as you want, but at least a clove or two.
Salt - Taste as you go - it takes more salt than you would expect - and the salt is crucial to develop the flavor, so don't skip it. If it seems a little dull, add more salt. If you think you've over-salted, don't panic - let it sit, and it should be fine by dinner time.

Grate cucumber into the sour cream. Mix with other ingredients. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.

If you can get real Greek yogurt, use that. Otherwise, the sour cream is a kinder alternative than what passes for yogurt outside of Greece.

Store Bought Pita Bread Secret

If you have no choice but to use pre-packaged store bought pita bread, and you have a gas oven, heat each pita over the burner. Just throw it on there and stand by with tongs, letting it scorch just a bit. This will give it a little more flavor. Wrap in a towel to keep it warm. Or forgo the pita bread entirely in favor of a fresh-baked white bread - just as good for dipping in the tzatziki sauce, and more "Greek" than pita bread.

Feeling more adventurous? Have a front yard decorated with Greek columns? Try this one! How to Cook A Whole Lamb

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