As pre announced last week, this fourth dish of our Greek Series is the Souvlaki! Although usually I like to stick to the original recipe, this time I found a recipe by Jamie Oliver that I couldn’t help but try and find incredibly delicious! And so I am sure you will.
Souvlaki is one of the most popular Greek dishes around the world, very simple to make yet extremely flavorful. To make a Souvlaki all you need is some meat (usually pork, but you can also use chicken) and some vegetables. grilled and savored with salt, pepper, and some herbs (oregano, thyme, mint…). You can also add paprika, mustard, ketchup and add some tzatziki sauce.
Today Souvlaki is often presented as one of the most refined appetizer in many Mediterranean and Greek cuisine restaurants, but in Greece it’s considered a fast food. Yes, you heard me. It’s the simplicity of the dish itself that makes it suitable to be categorized as fast food, in the very sense of the word, however the ingredients (unlike what happens in many fast food chains around the world) are extremely fresh. Grilled and served on a skewer (the word souvlaki in fact means “skewer”) or in a full plate with some pita bread, Souvlaki has been present in the Greek cuisine since the 17th century BC, as some stone sets of barbecue from around that time have been found in the island of Santorini.
If you go to Athens instead of Souvlaki you might find Kalamaki. It’s indeed the same dish but served exclusively on a skewer, and the meat is cut into 1-inch chunks. But be careful! Kalamaki also means “straw” so if you go to the northern part of Greece do not ask for Kalamaki instead of Souvlaki because as a joke to deride the Athenians they would give you a drinking straw!
Souvlaki is a fun dish to accompany a cocktail, enjoy as a snack, or serve as a dinner plate. On top of it, kids love it, especially if served with fried potatoes.
Ingredients (serves 4):
3 Sweet pointed peppers
8 Pita bread
4 Spring of fresh mint
A Small chopped fresh dill
Rometti Red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
1 Lemon to serve
28 oz (800 g) of good quality pork
1 tbsp dried mint
1 tbsp dried oregano
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Cloves of garlic finely grated
Cut the wooden skewers to fit in your griddle pan and soak them in some water to prevent them from burning.
Cut the pork into a 1inch chunks and put it into a bowl , with dried mint and oregano, juice of 1 lemon, about 3oz of olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp of Rometti Red Wine Vinegar, a pink of salt and pepper. Mix everything together, cover with clear film and let it marinate for about 30 minutes or more into the fridge.
In the meantime blacken the sweet peppers into a hot dry griddle, but make sure you don’t burn them. Put them in a bowl and cover it with some clear film to keep the steam in and avoid the skin to come off.
Thread the skewers with the pork cubes and cook them over the grill or griddle for 8 to 10 minutes. Turn them every now and them. Warm your pitas in the oven or grill them.
Before the skewers are ready peel and deseed the peppers, tear them into pieces and put them in a bowl. Roll up the mint leaves, finely slice them and add them to the bowl with the dill. Add a little Rometti Red Wine Vinegar, some salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil and toss it all together.
Serve the souvlakia (plur.) with a dollop of tzatziki and a pita bread. Drizzle some olive oil on top of it, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Photo by David Loftus