Saturday, May 31, 2008

Souvlaki Hirina/Tzatziki

This recipe originated in Saveur (#111, p.39), actually the only recipe that I've managed to pull out of Saveur that I much liked, but I've tweaked it a tiny bit (as usual) and added some suggestions. It's really just a classic Cyprus pork souvlaki (souvlaki, FYI, derives from the word for skewer, so it's just skewered meat, essentially).

This consists of two things, the marinade for the meat, and the classic tzatziki (cucumber-mint) sauce.

For the marinade:
About 2 cups red wine
2 t. dried oregano
2 t. ground cumin (if possible, grind the seeds yourself; they're much better freshly ground)
2 t. kosher salt (or to taste)
1 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
6 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper

The above makes more than enough marinade for 2 lbs. of pork (probably enough for 4 lbs.). Pork shoulder is good, and a fattier cut tastes better grilled than a leaner cut. Cut into 1-1/2" inch cubes; the idea is to get this as even as possible because it helps with even cooking.

Mix all the ingredients, cover, and let marinate for 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. This is better the longer you marinate it, and if you have a tough cut of meat, you want to leave it a long time, as the red wine will tenderize it.

For the Tzatziki:
1 cucumber (use the English/seedless kind)
1-1/2 c. greek yogurt, like Fage (you can use a different yogurt, but greek-style is FAR better, and also lower carb. Regardless, it should be a full-fat yogurt)
1/2 c. fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2. T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste (many do not add pepper to tzatziki; I like the little bit of bite, but go easy on it, and it's better to use white pepper if you put much in)

Peel and seed the cucumber and chop very finely. Stir in all the other ingredients; cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately. Tzatziki can be made up to a day in advance, but it's better the fresher it is. If you've never had really fresh tzatziki, it's amazingly good, and nothing like the premade stuff from the store. It's just kind of a nuisance to chop the cucumber! (Maybe I just need more practice...)

Cooking the souvlaki: Skewer the meat, season with salt and pepper, and then grill or broil. The original recipe suggested 20-25 minutes; this is far too long. On my huge Weber gas grill (on pretty low heat), this took maybe 15 minutes, and I thought that they were slightly overcooked. In the oven under a broiler, this would probably take a little longer, but I think 25 minutes would cremate them. Heat the remaining marinade in a saucepan and use to baste the meat while cooking (this is optional, really, although it increases the moistness).

Traditionally, this is served with pita or rice; it's fine all by itself. Sprinkle with chopped scallions and chopped flat-leaf parsley if desired. I usually make green beans with pine nuts as a complement to this dish.

Carbs? Nothing in the pork really; Fage yogurt is 8 carbs/cup, so you have to eat a lot of the sauce to get many carbs at all. More if you use a different yogurt, but a lot of people argue that the carbs in yogurt are overstated, anyway (still, go easy on the sauce in induction). Gluten-free, wheat-free.

1 comment:

Vikki said...

I'm on the side that says yogurt has fewer carbs than reported. I make my own yogurt so I have seen what the incubated cultures do to the milk. So I do think the cultures eat the lactose ( sugar) in the milk therefore leaving it with fewer sugars ( carbs).