Zatar, Ramps & Butts

Thanks to Alton Brown, Iron Chef America can be quite an educational tool. Things learned during Chef Todd English's pizza dough battle with Iron Chef Mario Batali:

Zatar is a Middle Eastern aromatic spice mixture containing toasted white sesame seeds, ground sumac, thyme and salt. Chef English tossed liberal amounts of zatar and fresh herbs on a rack of lamb he was pan-frying. Between Alton's description of the herb smell and the stunning shot of the lamb in the pan - I've got to try it!

Ramps - aka the Wild Leeks of Appalachia - are a springtime vegetable and a member of the onion family. They apparently have a strong garlic-like aroma. Never heard of these in my life. Again - got to try this!

Pork butts come from the shoulder of a pig, not the rump. Who knew?

Posted by rebecca on September 08, 2005 | TrackBack

Ramps were all over the greenmarkets here a couple of months back, so I got my first taste of them... and they were DELISH. We bought them often, mainly just lightly sauteeing them or braising them, and they really add something different to a dish. If you can find them next year when they're in season, I'd HIGHLY recommend trying them!

Posted by: jenblossom on September 9, 2005 8:15 AM

That sounds right up my alley! Yum!

Posted by: Rebecca on September 14, 2005 7:34 AM

I'm addicted to zaatar - it has an incredible smell and flavor. Found your site because I was googling zaatar while waiting for my bread to heat up - am going to be dredging it in oil mess soon and loving every min of it ... I saw that Iron Chef America, and completely missed it when English was cooking with it and lamb - too funny!

Good luck to you!

Posted by: dayzella on September 16, 2005 5:35 PM

ramps - im gonna be attempting to start a patch next year - try this place for seeds, starts, and books: - ill let you know if i have any luck.

pork butt - short for shoulder butt - the "butt" like that of a gunstock, is the wide/thick end of an object, in this case, the leg.

iron chef america disappoints me, thanks to its thoroughly pedestrian "secret ingredients" (and in part because i watched iron chef on japanese channels since it started showing - ica has a lot of catching up to do :) ). battle *hamburger*? come on... i was begging for one of the chefs to pull out hamburger helper... i suppose we have to keep middle america interested (and not confused by "exotic" ingredients you might only be able to find on the coasts)... alton brown saves it though.

Posted by: joel on September 19, 2005 7:50 AM

I just found this recipe when I googled zatar:
Grilled Flatbread with Zatar and Yogurt Sauce,1977,FOOD_9936_20253,00.html

That sounds so good! I might have to try that this weekend.

Posted by: rebecca on September 21, 2005 8:11 AM

Joel, what a snobbish, elitist attitude! Nothing shows a chef's skill more than taking a simple ingredient and working their magic with it.

If you want to see Battle Sea Urchin, watch the old Japanese Iron Chef re runs.

As for Zatar, I cook with it often. Being half Lebanese I grew up eating it and many other wonderful Middle Eastern foods. I'm roasting a leg of lamb today that has been marinated in a zatar/garlic/coriander mixture overnight.

Posted by: Tom on October 16, 2005 4:17 AM
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