Souvlaki (Wicked Kebabs)

We Brits often think of kebabs as a guilty pleasure. But, having seen the love and attention that goes into preparing a proper Greek kebab, I can assure you there is nothing to feel guilty about. It's all about quality ingredients and fresh zingy flavours. I'd always thought dried mint sounded a bit naff, but actually it turned out to be very delicious and it really helped create a more authentic taste. A few of these with some cold beers would be wicked. Cook them on a barbecue or in a griddle pan, depending on what's easier for you.

TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 14 min
Prep: 30 min
Inactive Prep: 35 min
Cook: 9 min
 
YIELD: 4 servings (makes 8 generous kebabs)
LEVEL: Intermediate

ingredients

  • For the kebabs
  • 1 3/4 pounds/800 g leg of pork, shin if you can get it, the best quality you can afford, cut into 3/4-inch/2 cm chunks
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 1/2 ounces/100 ml good-quality olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • A pinch sea salt
  • A pinch freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 sweet pointed peppers, a mixture of colours is nice
      • For the tzatziki
      • Half a large cucumber
      • 6 3/4 ounces/200 ml natural yoghurt
      • 8 flatbreads, to serve
      • 4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves picked
      • A small bunch fresh dill, chopped (stalks and all)
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      Directions

      For the kebabs:
      Put the pork chunks, dried mint, dried oregano, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and black pepper into a bowl and use your clean hands to mix everything together really well. Cover with plastic wrap or clingfilm, then pop into the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or longer if you want the flavours to get a bit more intense.

      Meanwhile, blacken the peppers directly over the flame of your hob, in a hot dry griddle pan or under a hot grill. Turn them every so often and when they look almost ruined, pop them into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap or clingfilm and put to one side to steam for 5 minutes or so, this will help their skins to come off.

      To make the tzatziki:
      Coarsely grate the cucumber into a sieve set up over a bowl. Add a few good pinches of salt, then use your hands to squeeze out as much water as you can. Pour the water away, then tip the cucumber into the empty bowl and add the yoghurt. Pound the garlic in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of salt until you have a paste, and spoon that into the bowl with the cucumber. Add the dried mint and red wine vinegar and mix really well. Have a taste to make sure you've got the balance right, then put aside.

      Preheat a griddle pan or grill on a high heat.

      Thread the skewers through the marinated pork pieces, leaving little spaces between them so that the heat cooks everything evenly. Cook the kebabs on the screaming hot griddle or grill for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally until done on all sides.

      Warm your flatbreads in the oven or in a hot dry pan while your kebabs are cooking.

      Just before your kebabs are ready, peel and deseed your blackened peppers, then tear them into strips and put them into a bowl.

      Roll up your mint leaves, finely slice them and add to the bowl along with the dill. Add a few splashes of red wine vinegar, a pinch or two of salt and pepper and a lug of extra-virgin olive oil. Toss and mix together, then have a taste to check the balance of flavours. Cut your lemon into wedges.

      Put a dollop of tzatziki and the meat from 1 skewer on each warmed flatbread. Top with some of the pepper mixture, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Life doesn't get much better.

      Notes

      If using wooden skewers, cut 8 to fit your griddle pan and soak them in a tray of water to stop them from burning.


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      5

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      • on January 16, 2013

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        This is nearly identical to my father's recipe for lamb souvlaki, or "spiedies" as they're called around Binghamton, NY. This is a perfect marinade for all meat and/or poultry kabobs!! TRULY delicious!

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      • on December 11, 2011

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        we love this recipe the flavors in it remind me of lamb kebabs. We just could not get enough. We will be making this often. The meat taste best if it is grilled.

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