Students of Greek literary classics and philosophy may remember that Homer, Aristotle and Aristophanes all refer to feasts of skewered meat in various texts and documents. Fascinating! Or, true scholars of ancient Greek things may read this and laugh, in which case it probably isn’t true, and Wikipedia lied to us. You really can’t believe everything you read on the internet!
Regardless of whether or not the characters in the Iliad fortified their bellies with souvlakia before battling in the Trojan war, this Greek staple is definitely worth fighting for. But, there actually is no struggle here; these pork souvlakia are incredibly easy and simple to prepare, and will likely satisfy every mouth you are feeding. The only fight may be deciding who gets the last one.
Making these pork souvlakia is easy, but it’s not something you can whip together with no planning. For best results, the meat must marinate for at least 12 hours, or overnight, so plan ahead.
Our parents cube their own meat, and you should too! It is easy, and much more economical than buying packages of pork which are already cut up. Their meat cubes are typically cut into 1 inch pieces, but the size itself matters less than ensuring that the cubes are of equal size.
Prior to passing your marinated pork cubes on the skewer, you will allow them to drain in a colander, as described in the recipe. This is a good time to soak your wooden souvlaki skewers. Soaking the skewers will help prevent them from charring as the souvlakia cook.
Our parents grill their souvlakia, either on a gas barbeque, or a charcoal grill. The cooking times vary slightly, depending upon the level of heat emanating from your grill. Therefore, the best way to ensure that your souvlakia are cooked, is to check them. The pork should have only a hint of pink inside when you cut a piece open.
One of the marinade ingredients is Montreal steak spice. You may be able to find this where you live, even if it’s not in Montreal. Otherwise, you can substitute your favourite brand of steak spice, and when you come visit our beautiful city, you can pick some up.
You can serve your souvlaki on the stick, along with side accompaniments; in some parts of Greece this would be called kalamaki. Alternatively, you can prepare souvlaki pitas, by removing the skewer and wrapping your meat with a pita bread. You can add lettuce, fresh onions, tomatoes and of course, tzatziki. If you are feeling especially fancy, you can even add a couple of french fries to your pita. Like, inside your pita…not on the same plate as your pita. Inside! It’s delicious!
This recipe makes lots of souvlakia…maybe more than you need. That’s okay, because they freeze really well. If your pork was never previously frozen, you can skewer your meat and freeze the raw souvlakia for another day. If you are using meat which was previously frozen, then freeze your fully cooked souvlakia. When you are ready to eat them, defrost in the refrigerator and warm up in the oven until heated through. Super easy way to get supper on the table during a busy evening.
Mia Kouppa: Pork souvlaki
- 5 medium sized pork tenderloins
- 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon (19 ml) salt
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oregano
- 1 teaspoon (4 ml) Montreal steak spice (or other steak spice)
- 1 teaspoon (4 ml) pepper
- 1 3/4 cups (425 ml) vegetable oil For the Olive oil and lemon sauce
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) Greek olive oil
- 1 teaspoon (4 ml) dried Greek oregano
- juice of one lemon (minimum of 3 tablespoons or 45 ml)
- Prepare your tenderloins by removing as much of the silvery skin as you can from the pork.
- Cut into 1 inch cubes, trying to keep each cube relatively the same size.
- In a large bowl, combine the vegetable oil and salt, oregano, Montreal steak spice and pepper. Mix well. Add the pork cubes and mix well by hand so that all pieces get coated by the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to skewer the pork (after it has marinated as indicated above), allow the pork to drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Drain your pork into a large bowl if you are planning to roast potatoes. You can use this drained liquid in your roasting pan with the potatoes for added flavour.
- While the pork is draining, soak your wooden skewers in a bowl of cold water.
- After draining, begin skewering your pork. The number of pork pieces you will add to each skewer will depend upon its length, but a good rule of thumb is to ensure that you leave about 1 – 1 1/2 empty inches on either end.
- Grill your pork souvlaki, on either a charcoal or gas bbq, on medium heat, until cooked through, turning often. The pork is ready when it has only a hint of pink on the inside.
- While the souvlakia are cooking, prepare your ladolemono (olive oil and lemon sauce) by mixing together the olive oil, fresh lemon juice and oregano. Set aside.
- Once cooked, place your souvlaki on a serving platter and pour the ladolemono over them.
- Serve with a lemon wedges, pita bread and tzatziki, if desired. Enjoy!