Greek style souvlaki with homemade tzatziki
Unless you don’t eat meat (please forgive me my vegan and vegetarian friends) nothing beats the smell of grilled meat wafting in the air. Actually even grilled veggies smell amazing on the grill so there you go! My absolute favourite is Greek brizoles (Greek for grilled pork chops) done on the grill or even pan fried. Excuse me while I take a moment to wipe the drool. I’m just thinking of my uncle’s and of course my moms amazing grilled brizoles!! They equal these pork souvlakia which are full of the he same flavours and I literally never tire of eating.
So what is souvlaki? Souvlaki or plural souvlakia comes from the word Souvla meaning skewer. Appropriately since souvlaki or also commonly known as kalamaki, is meat or veggies grilled on skewers.
Most common meat used is pork, but chicken, beef and lamb also make the cut. Regardless of the meat, although for souvlaki I’m totally partial to pork, it’s the marinade that really makes these little guys irresistible! It’s full of garlic and lots of lemon and oregano! Totally essential, at least I think, is for you to marinade the meat overnight. I just find that gives the meat time to soak in all that flavour and when it comes to the pork it tenderises it a bit too. The lemon and vinegar almost act like a brining liquid which helps make the pork a little more tender and juicy. Of course you’re not using even close to the amount of salt you would in a brining liquid but it still does the job.
Once they are grilled to perfection you give them a good dowsing of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt and they are ready to plate or put into pita/flat bread with the usual suspects — some chopped tomatoes, onions as pictured. Some other popular toppings included chopped lettuce, feta and french fries. But would also be elevated and awesome with some grilled red peppers or eggplant too! Yum! Of course you cannot have souvlaki with out tzatziki — basically what Greeks use to fend off close talkers. Hehe! Yes beware and be warned you will have some pretty pungent garlic breathe going on after eating even just a little bit of it. But so worth it! I’m so partial to it and also take it so for granted in a way!! It’s a fabulous almost refreshing sauce which adds so much to grilled meats. I love it with Greek style rice too and just about anything really!
I used Amare goat yoghurt for it this time and oh my was it awesome!! Tasted like you had tzatziki and goat feta mixed together. A more intense tzatziki experience if that could even be possible. Ok so I think I have already said too much about this! Lastly my husband was so thankful I made these and asked why I hadn’t made them sooner — and we both agreed we really missed the Danforth — the Greek stretch in Toronto that we lived blocks away from! And of course that just snow balled to missing my parents and then Greece and my family there…….then I just ate more souvlaki and I was fine! You guys just have to try this super basic and easy recipe. Do roast them in the oven if you don’t have a grill and to get them a little charred just broil them on each side for a few minutes when they are just about cooked through. They will be equally delish!
Greek style souvlaki
Makes approx 8-10 skewers
- 2 lbs of pork or chicken cleaned and cut up into 1⁄2-1 inch chunks (I used pork in this recipe)
- 1 tbsp of oregano
- 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- Juice of one lemon plus extra for squeezing on the skewers after they are grilled
- Pinch each of salt and pepper
- 1 tsp of paprika (optional but I like the hint of heat it gives)
- 3 cloves of garlic grated
- 1 small red onion chopped finely
- 10 inch skewer sticks
In a large bowl toss the pork with all the ingredients (except the skewers of course- hehe) and cover and marinade overnight for best results.
1⁄2 hour to an hour before you are ready to grill soak your skewers in water to help them stand up to the heat of the grill
Place or thread meat on skewers removing any big chunks of onion or garlic and set aside while you heat the grill (I use larger skewers so you can let the unused part of the skewers hang outside the grill — makes for easy handling and turning and a less charred skewer)
Heat the grill to medium-high and grease it before putting on the skewers
Place the skewers on the grill and let them grill untouched for 8-10 minutes, flip them and let them grill for another 8-10 minutes or until fully cooked (cooking time may be a little longer with chicken and with larger chunks)
Remove from grill when they are done squeeze some lemon juice on them and sprinkle with a little extra salt and tent them with foil for a few minutes letting them rest
Serve them with warm pita or flat bread heated up in the oven or you can lightly oil a frying pan and fry them lightly on both sides as well as topped some chopped tomatoes, onions and definitely a good dollop of tzatziki and if you dare add some feta and French fries in there too.
Tzatziki (Greek garlic yoghurt sauce)
- 1 tub of Greek yoghurt strained in a cheesecloth over a metal strainer and bowl over night (I used Amare probiotics goat yoghurt but you can also use plain full fat yoghurt of your choice)
- Juice of 1⁄2-1 lemon depending on how lemony you want it (I usually go for all)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1⁄2 of a cucumber washed well, cut in half and seeds scraped out, grated and then tossed with a tsp of salt and left to strain overnight as well and squeeze the excess juice before using (this is totally optional — I don’t always add the cucumber but it adds a cool freshness to it)
- 1 small bunch of dill chopped finely
- 1 small bunch of mint chopped finely
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a bowl mix all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy the garlicky goodness that is tzatziki!!