Greek Souvlaki

Summer Recipe with Chef Christos

We are in the middle of summer and it is time to get your barbecue up and running and ready for Greek souvlaki.

Meat or vegetable skewers cooked on a charcoal barbecue will achieve a smoky flavour with a crispy outside. Super tender and bursting flavour, souvlaki can be the highlight of your next bbq gathering or a delicious, healthy, easy dinner for you and your family.

However, they also work great on a grill pan or in the oven, if you don’t have the time or space for a proper barbecue.

When we say souvlaki in Greek we refer to meat threaded on skewers, traditionally it’s either pork souvlaki or chicken but you can have a lamb, vegetables, or halloumi cheese souvlaki as well.

The difference between souvlaki and kebabs is that kebabs are made with ground meat instead of cubed meat threaded on skewers.

You simply cannot go to Greece without experiencing souvlaki. It’s a major Greek street food and happens to be one of my favourites.

For chicken souvlaki I use boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you can use leg as well, but you need to increase the cooking time.

For pork, the tenderloin and the neck is the best choice, as the meat comes out super tender!

For lamb, use a boneless leg or shoulder. Trim it of any excess fat and then cut into cubes.

One of the most important aspects of Greek souvlaki is the marinade. The combination of meat and marinade packs a lot of flavour and it will bring the taste of Greece right into your kitchen.

Once the marinade is made, mix it with the diced meat until well coated.

Marinating your souvlaki in the fridge for at least half an hour will allow the aromas to infuse the souvlaki and give it the desired flavours, or for better results leave it overnight in the fridge.

You can serve the souvlaki with Greek salad, cous cous salad, chargrilled vegetables, dips like hummus, tzatziki, tomato salsa and sour dough bread charred on the coals with a drizzle of extra virgin oil and oregano. Or do something more unique, more Greek and cook a pita bread, add tzatziki, sliced red pepper and tomatoes, your preference skewer, salt, white pepper and paprika, wrap with foil and dream that you are at some Greek island holding a Mythos beer and enjoy the sun.

When the skewers are ready, for extra flavour drizzle some ladolemono (lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, oregano, salt and white pepper).

 

Chicken souvlaki marinade 

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced or grated
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Some fresh mint (optional)
  • 2 tbsp mustard powder (optional)
  • Wooden, bamboo or metal skewers

Pork souvlaki marinade 

  • 800g pork tenderloin or pork neck (boneless), cut in 2cm chunks
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin oil
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Lamb souvlaki marinade 

  • 1kg lamb leg or shoulder, remove any excess fat and dice
  • 5–6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp dried Greek oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or some fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Chopped fresh rosemary or fresh mint (optional)

Halloumi souvlaki 

  • Halloumi (cut into squares)
  • Diced fresh peppers (same size as cheese)
  • Courgette
  • Wedges of red onions
  • Mushroom
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt, oregano and white pepper
  • 2 crushed gloves of garlic

 For the tzatziki sauce

  • 1 cucumber grated with the skin (drain in a sieve to remove excess moisture)
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g of Greek strained yogurt for better results
  • 1–2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 100 g Fresh chopped mint
  • 25 g of chopped fresh dill (optional)
  • Juice and zest from whole lemon
  • Mix all the ingredients together and leave it at fridge for 1-2 hours

To make the souvlaki 

Make the marinade by combining all the ingredients except the meat

Add the meat in a bowl with the marinade and marinate for at least half an hour

Thread the skewers with the marinated meat

Place the skewers on a barbecue or under a grill

Cook for around 12 minutes, both sizes or until it gets to a temperature of 75 c for chicken and pork, 64 c for medium rare lamb

TOP TIPS 

  • Marinade at least half an hour before cooking them
  • When cooking the souvlaki skewers try not to overcook them, to avoid becoming dry and tough for juicy and tender meat
  • Start at very hot flame for smoky flavour but after 2-3 minutes remove to lower heat to avoid drying them out
  • When threading the meat pieces on the skewers it is essential to thread the pieces loosely, rather than smush them tightly together. This will allow the meat to cook evenly in between each piece
  • Dice the meat even size to avoid smaller pieces cook faster and ending up overcooked
  • Keep turning the skewers around for even cooking

 

 

 

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