Nazar Market last weekend looking to solve the problem from my last visit.
Test driving Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen, I followed a recipe by buying lamb shoulder and then grinding the meat in our food processor. The kebobs had delicious flavor, but they had chewy texture that we assumed came from gristle or other pieces attached to the meat.
So when I went back to Nazar in Columbia, I wanted to be careful about my purchase. I talked slow. I want to buy lamb, I said. Lamb, the butcher agreed. I want lamb for ground meant, I said. Ground lamb, the butcher agreed. I want to make kabobs, I said, and the butcher nodded and got busy. He took meat from the cooler. He started to chop and slice meat from the bones. I walked away to shop, then returned to find that all those meat chunks had disappeared.
That was when I realized that I was talking to the butcher across a meat grinder. A giant metal grinder the height of my chest.
I had come to Nazar looking to repeat my mistake -- buy lamb shoulder and grind my own meat at home. But Nazar's butcher is a professional. He was grinding the meat himself. He cut exactly the meat that I needed, then ran it twice through the industrial grinder that I was too much of an amateur to even identify until it was spitting out perfect-looking ground meat.
This is so easy that everyone should try some lamb kabobs. Nazar's butcher turned out ground lamb that developed a char on the outside while staying moist inside. A little more fat that my normal ground beef (like a little fire from dripping fat). But all the authenticity and safety of Laurel Meat Market's ground chuck -- plus a flavor that, if anything, is better than a hamburger. Planet Barbecue has several kabob recipes, and you can find ideas from three continents if you look on the Internet.
This "order ground meat" option is so obvious that I assume it's available at Columbia Halal Meat on Rte 108 and Caezar International Market just off Rte 100 -- both officially in Elkridge.
Over the next few weeks, HowChow is going to look like Nazar Market's house blog. I stopped several times and found great items on each visit, including a cherry nectar drink, a coffee-flavored sparking water, and jarred pickled cabbage that goes great with a burger. I'll post those later.