Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pork Souvlaki with Cucumber-Dill Yogurt Tzatziki

Well known for its delicious cuisine and healthy Mediterranean diet, Greece has a long rich culinary history that dates back over 4,000 years. From grilled fish and dolmades to skordalia and spanakopita, Greek cuisine is a divine marriage of bold flavours, simple ingredients and time-honoured traditions. Many dishes can be traced back to ancient Greece and Byzantium, whereas others were influenced by Ottoman cuisine with names that reveal their Arabic, Persian or Turkish roots: moussaka, tzatziki, yuvarlakia, keftethes and boureki. However, among the icons of modern Greek food culture, one of the most popular must be souvlaki. Infused with the intoxicating scents of oregano, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, these Pork Kebabs owe their tenderness to a tangy marinade that helps break down even the toughest cuts of meat. Traditionally served wrapped in pita bread and topped with a variety of condiments such as lettuce, tomato, onion, and tzatziki, Souvlaki are also quite delicious all on their own, perfect for enjoying as part of a Greek-inspired menu of small plates on a warm summer evening.

Marinade for the pork souvlaki: olive oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar and Greek oregano 
seasoned with salt and pepper

The pork shoulder was trimmed and cut into generous 1 1/2-inch pieces and marinated for a few hours before threading the meat onto skewers

Cold and creamy tzatziki

Pork Souvlaki
Serves 4

1 1/2 lb pork shoulder or loin, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tbsp dried Greek oregano
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

In large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the pork and toss to coat. Marinate for 15 minutes. Evenly thread the marinated pork onto 4 skewers and grill on a preheated barbecue, turning halfway through, until just a hint of pink remains inside, about 8 minutes per side. Garnish with sliced lemon and fresh oregano, and bowl of tzatziki.

Makes 2 1/2 cups

2 cups Greek or Balkan yogurt
1 English cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh dill
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Box grate the cucumber and toss it with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Place it in a sieve and set it over a bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours so the yogurt and cucumber can drain. Transfer the thickened yogurt to a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can and add the cucumber to the yogurt. Mix in the sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. You can serve it immediately, but letting the tzatziki to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours allows for the flavours to blend. Serve chilled or at room temperature.