Greek Souvlaki: In other words, meat on a stick, or kebabs.
Use bamboo skewers – and get them as long as possible. You will need maximum length to maximise on ‘impact’. Allow between one and two skewers per person. If you are having a starter, main course and a pud, you might get away with one each… perhaps. It’s all according to how delicious they are.
You must soak the skewers in water for a good couple of hours if you intend to cook these on a barbecue or on a gas grill. If there is a flame likely to come in contact with the wood, they’ll burn. At least if they have been soaked the burn will be reduced. Some people soak them in wine. I prefer to soak them in water and DRINK the wine….
Prep: 15 mins.
Cooking: 15 mins.
Course: Snack, starter or main
Rating: 3: Moderate
Find for two people:
- 2 cheap (value) pork chops
- Red, orange & yellow peppers (see method)
- Red onion
- Other things I haven’t thought of yet
- Wooden kebab skewers
- Oven (roasting) tin
- You can use the supermarket ‘Value’ pork chops as they are probably the cheapest source of quick-cooking pork you’ll get. However, if you have a friendly (tame) butcher who can give you good quality pork at reduced rates, go for whatever is advised – they know more than you and I combined. However, it shouldn’t really be all completely lean pork as a fat content is needed to allow it to remain succulent. Remember that it is being cooked quickly and so doesn’t have sufficient time to become tender in the cooking process.
- Remove the bone from the pork chops and then cut the meat into 2cm cubes. You can cheat by cutting it 2 by 1cm and then folding it in two. This just makes the meat content look a bit more than it really is. Perhaps this is a bit of a cheat, but hell, when money is a problem, what’s a bit of fair cheating between friends?
- You’ll need about a red, an orange and a yellow pepper for 5 or 6 people sitting down to dinner – so about a half a pepper + per person – and a couple of large, round, hard red onions.
- Peel the red onion by topping and tailing (removing the top and the bottom), cutting in half vertically and then just removing the dried outer layer of the onion.
- Now take off each layer, one by one, keeping it ‘onion shaped’, in a dome sort of thing.
- Put these onto a plate or into a bowl or dish to work from. The peppers should be cut in half vertically, the stalk and seeds removed and then each half cut again horizontally, then each quarter cut into two or three bits. Try to retain the curved nature of each piece.
- As the meal is ‘on sticks’ it is important to get the presentation right, so start with the pepper.
- Stick the bamboo skewer through the pepper, skin side first, this will allow the curved nature of the pepper to encompass the pork (the next component) and provide a little moisture for it. Steam cooks meat nicely, especially when it’s flavoured steam, as the pepper will provide. Pepper, pork, onion, pork, pepper, pork, onion, pork, pepper, pork… you can see the methodology behind it all.
- Of course, if you want to, you can use mushrooms as well, peeled chestnuts (yummy – but a bugger to put onto skewers without breaking up) and all sorts of other things. As well as, instead of… well, you ring the changes as it’s your meal. Don’t be slavish and just follow a recipe, use the method and then do as you please – and then, when people ask for the recipe you can say “Well, I didn’t really follow a recipe as such; it was something I just cooked up” That’ll certainly get you points with the partner.
- So what do you do with these skewers of stuff that you have in a great mountain on a plate? Well, if you can lay them on a large plate or a wide, shallow oven tin, that’s great. If you do not have such a thing, use oven foil with the edges just turned up a bit. Put some olive oil and some balsamic vinegar into a mug to make it about a quarter full, mix it up thoroughly and brush it liberally all over the kebabs. More rather than less, and make sure that it does not separate before being brushed on.
- Leave them there for as long as possible.
- You then have a choice. If you have only enough for two people, do them in your big frying pan. Perhaps you’ll use the grill, or even a slow barbecue (when the coals are not too hot and likely to start flaming). You might have a griddle on your cooker, so use that. If not, bung them into a HOT oven in the oven tin you used for the marinating. No oven tin? Use the foil on something ovenproof… just a baking try is fine if the foil is being used.
- So how long do I need to cook them for? Ah, now, that’s a good question. With direct heat (frying pan, grill, griddle) you’ll need to look at the meat as it’s cooking and see that it’s not red at all, perhaps 10 – 15 minutes, but with chicken you’ll really need to ENSURE that the meat is cooked. With the oven you’ll manage to cook well in about 25 minutes if the kebabs went into a pre-heated oven. If you turned on an oven as you put them in, allow at least another 5 minutes. If it’s crisping at the corners, it should be fine. What you don’t want to do is serve cubes of ‘biblical burnt offering’, as they say. With oven-cooked kebabs it might just be nice to pop them into a frying pan/onto a griddle for a couple of minutes just to crisp the outsides, for good looks.
- You have a choice of sauces to serve with them, but the Greeks don’t seem to serve them with a sauce at all in my experience.