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Michael in Phoenix

Evelyn, Jeff, and Michael's Souvlaki

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Joined: Dec 9, 2005


Posted to Thread #68 at 2:09 pm on Jun 28, 2007

(This is a re-post of a post I wrote over on Epi a few years back. I have updated it today, since recipes do change over time.)

Evelyn from Athens posted her version of souvlaki (Greek grilled meat on skewers) awhile back, and eloquently gave us all a view of life in Athens, a magnificent place to visit, to eat the food, and enjoy the antiquity and the truly friendly and welcoming Greek people. When I was 19 I did the Europe-backpack thing, and spent some time in Athens, as well as on the Island of Crete. Our time there was truly the highlight of our 3 month trip.

While on Crete, we stayed in a small fishing village on the less-touristy southern coast. Each little hotel along the beach/fishing boat landing had a kitchen and a few tables on the boardwalk. They served, among other wonderful peasant food, these delicious shish-kebabs. You could get marinated lamb or pork, and the flavor was truly memorable.

In my search to reproduce this delicacy, I came across a recipe from Jeff Smith's companion-to-his-PBS-series "The Frugal Gourmet" cookbook. It was good, but not exactly what I wanted. Then I saw Evelyn's recipe here on the swap (20 years later!). She got me all worked up again, and I have been tinkering with Jeff Smith's recipe and hers, along with my own tweaks.

I like the result a lot:

Evelyn, Jeff, and Michael's Souvlaki

3 lbs. (approx.) boneless lamb, pork or chicken (Boneless leg of lamb or boneless pork shoulder or Boston Butt roast works well. Boneless/skinless chicken breasts are good too!)

1 cup e.v. olive oil
8 large cloves fresh garlic, minced
Juice of 1 large or 2 medium lemons
1/4 cup Low Salt soy sauce (Kikkoman is good)
2 tbsp. Greek oregano
1 tbsp. freshly ground pepper (or less, to taste)
2 large onions, quartered, then cut into eighths
2 large (or three medium) green bell peppers, cut into eighths

Cube meat into large-ish 1 1/2 inch pieces, trimming visible fat and connective tissue as you go.

Combine marinade ingredients and wisk to emulsify.

Place meat, onions and bell peppers in a large ziplock bag or non-reactive pan and add marinade. Place in fridge for at least 8 hours, overnight is best, turning the bag whenever you think about it.

Thread meat onto (metal) skewers and grill over hot coals until browned on all sides.


NOTES: I usually start out with about a 4-lb roast, and get approximately 3 to 3 1/2 lbs of cubed, trimmed meat. I have used boneless pork loin (whole, in the bag, on sale at the market!). With pork loin you have to be extra careful not to over-cook, as it dries out much quicker.

This marinade is also fantastic with cubed boneless chicken breasts.

Please juice fresh lemons. The bottled stuff is horrid, and won't get you there.

Greek oregano is definitely different from Mexican oregano. Try to get it.

The addition of lite soy (low salt soy) is from Jeff Smith's recipe. It's obviously not authentic, but it does add a terrific dimension to the flavor of the end product, and I won't make them without it! Kikkoman lite soy is my favorite. Please don't use La Choy, or some other chemical-tasting brand. Lite soy has less salt, and if you use regular soy, the dish may be too salty.

I usually grill vegetables along with this dish, and serve them with the meat and some grilled soft pita bread that I get from a local middle-eastern deli. Jeff Smith's recipe calls for green bell peppers and onions to be marinated along with the meat, then put on the skewers. I get a little nervous with this, as the veggies are in the same bag with raw meat, and I don't feel 100% confident that the veggies will get heated properly to keep the chance of food- bourne illness down. So, what I usually do is make a double batch of marinade and double the amount of onions and peppers. Then I marinate the meat with half the onions and peppers and discard them with the used marinade. I marinate the extra onions and peppers in a separate zip-lock bag and grill those along with the meat. You can also use the extra batch of marinade to brush on thick-sliced onions and peppers. Either way works well.

We serve this with yogurt sauce, crumbled feta cheese and a simple Greek salad.

Have fun!!


Human liberty is about courage, dignity, eternal truths, and personal responsibility. Star Parker

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