A couple weeks ago, we met a friend for Turkish food and I experienced the most amazing and delicious “Iskander”: flavorful, tender lamb and steak overtop crunchy croutons, topped with a savory red sauce, spiked with garlic, and served alongside aromatic rice and a cooling yogurt sauce.
A week later, I found myself in possession of some leftover steak and sausages from a weekend cookout. And so the experiment began. All I have are my Snapchat photos to immortalize this delicious meal! Will 100% make again. In fact, we had it again 2 days later!
Fun fact: Iskander is Turkish for Alexander, as in “the Great.”
My Turkish Iskander Experiment
- Leftover grilled steak and Italian sausage sliced into thin pieces
- Olive oil and a bit of butter
- Italian bread- a few slices cut into cubes about the size of large croutons
- Sundries tomatoes in their oil, from a jar- 2-3 T chopped fine plus a T of their oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced into very thin slices, plus another clove minced
- Dash of sriracha
- Fresh tomatoes, chopped
- Salt, pepper, etc
- Optional: cooked rice
- Optional: yogurt or sour cream
MAKE TOASTY GARLIC GARNISH
Heat a bit of butter and some olive oil together in a sturdy skillet. (Cast iron for the win!) Add the slices of garlic and toast in the oil until they are at least golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool. When you have some downtime, toss the chopped toasted garlic with the sun dried tomatoes and some of the tomatoes’ oil. Season with salt if needed -taste it first. Set aside as garnish.
MAKE GARLICKY CROUTONS
Add the cubed bread to the flavored oil/butter and sauté until they’re crunchy and golden brown all over. You might need to add more butter and oil to the pan, and season with a little sea salt if you’d like. Remove to plates – we’ll be topping them with the meat in a second.
FLASH SAUTÉ THE MEAT
Throw the minced garlic into the pan with a little olive oil, and sauté it for a minute to release some flavor. Add the thinly sliced meat to the pan to crisp it up and heat it. I added a dollop of sriracha and some Italian seasoning at this point because why not? Once the meat is crisped, divide it among the plates, setting it atop the piles of croutons.
Dice a couple tomatoes and add to the hot pan. Cook for just a minute to release the juices and pick up some of the garlic from the pan. When you’re happy with it, split it among your plates. (You could also use some red spaghetti sauce, but it was nice fresh.)
Finally, top each serving with the sundried tomato and toasted garlic mixture.
At the restaurant, this was served alongside rice and a typical Middle Eastern yogurt/cucumber sauce. I didn’t do that, but it’s a great complement.
I hope you run your own Iskander Experiment next time you’ve got leftover grilled meat. IT’S SO GOOD!
I write. I design. I cook. I read. I make music. I talk to people -- all kinds of people.
I used to teach and hopefully will do so again someday.
My dream job would be a cross between barrista and consultant, with a large helping of international travel and bohemian wandering through concerts, museums, galleries, and open spaces.
Somewhere back in time, my students started calling me "RameyLady" and the name stuck. I like it. There's a Ramey-man too. He's a much better writer but he seems to be too humble to share it with the world....at least, not yet.