Can anyone recommend a good Greek spice blend?
- puzzler Nov 13, 2009 12:50 PM
Can anyone recommend a good Greek spice blend? (I'm in Bellingham WA) We moved and I'm just finishing some from The Spice House in Chicago called Greektown "Billy Goat" Seasoning. I'd like to find something locally without shipping. Thanks!
One brand name is called Cavender's, but I haven't had it and don't know what parts of the country they distribute to.
The supermarkets in my area all send a Greek blend--wish I could remember the name, but I can't, puzzler...it's sold in the spice aisle with the other blends (e.g., Emeril's blends, Mrs. Dash's, etc.).
It's pretty easy to do a Greek blend on your own, puzzler, using a spice or dedicated coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle. That way, you can control the salt, too, which too many non-authentic Greek blends have too much of.
The herbs and spices that are the backbone of Greek cuisine are oregano, thyme, mint and good black pepper. Garlic is elemental to Greek cooking, so if you're not using fresh garlic, you can add some garlic powder, plus some onion powder, if you wish. Lemons comprise one of the pillars of Greek cooking, too, so you could add some dried lemon peel, if you wish. Some blends contain paprika, but I always felt that was more for color than part of the standard Greek flavor profile. Rosemary is also used when roasting lamb.
Cinnamon and nutmeg are also featured heavily in Greek food. Some blends for savory foods contain those; I'd choose a blend without them and just add them for certain dishes. Just my preference.
puzzler, I think you're going to find that with all the pre-packaged mass market blends. Places like Penzey's and The Spice House offer some mixes salt-free, but i understand you don't want to deal with the shipping. That's why I suggest mixing it up on your own. None of the primary Greek herbs and spices are hard to find, and most of them most of us already have in our kitchens. Make it yourself and you can emphasize the herbs in the Greek cooking vocabulary that you like best. Just a thought. Good luck.
I agree with the others that making your own spice blend is easy and the best way to go. I make my own but in addition to oregano, black pepper, onion and garlic powder- i add cinnamon and dried parsley flakes. I love the touch of cinnamon to any stewed meat which is very common in Greek cooking.
The homemade Greek blend I create excludes cinnamon or garlic but includes both in freshly grated form while cooking. I find the inclusion of dried garlic and cinnamon powder can overpower the blend in a holding jar but I do add dried lemon peel. So my mix includes Greek oregano, black pepper, dried lemon peel, dried onion and dried parsley. Took some experimenting.
For a roasted chicken I'll use a large tablespoon of the mix with 1/2 cup good olive oil and coat the bird with it; add a few garlic cloves and a cut lemon to the cavity and roast. Hum....maybe that's dinner!
Thanks to all for your replies. I might have to mix my own.
Following is a quote from The Spice House website relating how it got the name "Billy Goat.":
Greektown "Billygoat" Seasoning
Greektown seasoning is great for marinating lamb shish-ka-bobs or making a gyros sauce. This light blend also pairs well with chicken and fish dishes.
After a period of decline in the 1960s, the then new University of Illinois brought many professionals into the Greektown neighborhood, revitalizing many Greek shops and restaurants along Halsted Street. The dwindling congregation of beautiful St. Basil increased, and many residents and a real estate developer shared dreams of making this area into Greektown, USA. We name this seasoning "Billy Goat" in honor of Greek restaurant owner "Billy Goat" Sianis and one of our favorite humorous background stories about him. Apparently Sianis' constant companion and best baseball buddy was a smelly goat named Sonovia. The last time the Cubs went to the World Series (1945) Sianas actually went as far as to purchase a ticket for his goat in order to bring the team luck. Phil Wrigley, who is said to have little sense of humor, forbade the goat its rightful seat. The Cubs lost the Series...and the curse is still alive! Use this seasoning salt and remember the "Billy Goat", and who knows what the Cubs can do next season!
Good sprinkled on baked chicken or fish, pork chops, steaks. Hand mixed from coarse flake salt, granulated garlic powder, Tellicherry black pepper, onion powder, Greek fancy oregano and powdered lemon peel.
A tasty seasoning to use for gyros sauce: mix 2-3 teaspoons with 1 cup sour cream or yogurt, 2 tablespoons chopped cucumber, 1 tablespoon. chopped onion.
For a nice shisk-ke-bab, marinade lamb, beef, pork or chicken cubes, cover 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning with water to rehydrate, then mix with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice; toss with 1 pound meat cubes and refrigerate overnight. Skewer, then grill until brown.
Try a Zatar seasoning? You might find a good one at Market Spice, but I even tried one from Costplus World Market that I was happy enough with!