Yesterday, I was craving something from my homeland – Greece. Lately, I’ve been looking to other cuisines that I have neglected the fantastic flavours of Greece. My son has this thing with playing with my kitchen tools. The other day he uncovered the package of BBQ skewers I had hidden in the recesses of kitchen drawers. Usually this would get me all worked up but on this given day I was thankful because Alejandro gave me an idea on what to make for dinner. Skewers equal souvlakia. Souvlakia equal classic Greek meal along with Greek salad, rice pilaf and Tzatziki. Before making any definite plans I had to ensure that my Dad had enough propane in his BBQ tank and that my Mom would gladly take me to Highland Farms to buy quality pork for the souvlakia. Both answers were affirmative. Thus my journey back to Greek cooking commenced. The aroma of souvlaki grilling in the open air brought back memories of this little truck stop on the side of the mountain highway in between Veroia and Kozani. Everytime I would take the trip to my Dad’s hometown from my Mom’s hometown the bus would always stop in Kastania. Everyone would get off for a pee break and souvlaki take away. We would get 20 sticks and a bag of bread for a very low, low price. These souvlakia were loaded with oregano, garlic, lemon and salt. Mmmmm! There was nothing better. Yesterday, I recreated those souvlakia. Here’s the recipe for the Classic Souvlaki.
2 pork tenderloins, cubed
1 large onion, roughly chopped
juice or half a lemon
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
8 wooden skewers soaked in water
1. Soak the skewers in water for a few hours. This will prevent the sticks from burning while on the BBQ.
2. Place the pork pieces, onion slices and seasoning into a large bowl. Mix well and marinate for a few hours. If you do this the night before the souvlaki will be more tender.
3. For best results grill on a BBQ.
4. To make sure the souvlakia remain tender until you are ready to serve, squeeze another half a lemon the souvlakia and cover in a roasting pan. If you don’t have a roasting pan put them in a tin container but make sure you cover well. The steam from the hot meat and the lemon juice will allow the souvlaki to stay moist.
The secret to the perfect tzatziki is to use Greek yogurt – which is rich, strained and tart. For years my Mother would strain her own 2% Astro yogurt whenever she wanted to make tzatziki. That is a time consuming method but it was the only way that she would get the perfect consistancy for the tzatziki. It cannot be too runny or too thick. The juices from the cucumber will soften up the stiff yogurt. Sometimes she would go to Sun Valley to buy the Greek yogurt which was costly at the time. Now with the onset of all these yogurt makers producing “Greek Yogurt” making the perfect tzatziki is foolproof. Here is the Perfect Tzatziki for the Classic Souvlakia.
500g Greek yogurt – I used Oikos but you can use any brand you like
1/2 cucumber, peeled and grated
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1. Grate the cucumber and strain the excess water by placing the cucumber in a cheesecloth.
2. Add to the mixing bowl.
3. Add the minced garlic, yogurt and olive oil. Mix well.
4. Sprinkle in salt. Make sure not to make too salty. T