One disappointment I’ve had since coming to Australia has been my experience of the great Australian Barbecue. Now, don’t get me wrong, these Ozzys do love their outdoor cooking, but it’s just not quite as I’d expected.
I really should use this information to challenge my stereotypes; as I’m sure the Ozzys appreciate hearing ‘throw a shrimp on the barbie’ about as much as I welcome idiots saying ‘top o’the morning to ye’.
Most self-respecting Ozzy barbecuers have a large gas-powered or electric grill on their patio, instead of the tray of smoking, glowing coals that we’re so fond of on the annual three days of Irish summertime. And I can see why they do; it’s simply easier to control a grill. You’re less liable give your friends salmonella with pieces of charred chicken that are still raw on the inside, or turn a sausage into a weapon, or transform a nice juicy steak into something you could wear on your feet.
But really, isn’t that really half the fun?!
So, anyway, the point of all this is, I found this recipe for souvlaki, which are meant to be cooked on a barbecue. Not actually owning a barbecue, I opted to cook these on an electric grill (albeit an indoor one). And although, I know this was unauthentic, they still tasted soooo good.
I know many many Greek people are probably cursing my existence night now, but in my defence, I was excited to try these and simply couldn’t wait until summer. But once it does come around, I’ll cook them again, on a proper, smoking, coal barbecue and I’m sure they will taste even better again!
Souvlaki with salad and tzatziki in pita bread
Recipe is from the fabulous Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros.
Makes 4-6 pitas.
900 g (2 lb) pork fillet of loin
1 tsp dried oregano
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, sliced into half rings
1 tsp salt
2 tomatoes, chopped
12 pita breads, warmed
lemon halves, to serve
flat leaf parsley, to serve
For the tzatziki:
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 small cucumber
1 tsp salt
400g (14 oz) think Greek yogurt
2 tbsps fresh mint, finely chopped
First off, you’ll need to make the marinade; mix the oregano, lemon juice and oil together and season well with salt and pepper. Chop the meat into generous cubes and thread onto skewers. Coat the meat with the majority of the marinade (but save a small about of it for later) and leave to stand for about an hour.
In the mean-time, you can make the tzatziki sauce. Grate the cucumber coarsely and put into a fine sieve over a sink. Sprinkle with a little salt and leave for half an hour for the juices to drain away, otherwise you’ll just get watery tzatziki; feel free to squish the remaining liquid out if you feel it’s necessary. Mix the garlic, olive oil and lemon juice together in a large bowl. Next, add the yogurt, mint, and cucumber and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with freshly cracked black pepper. You could even make this a day or two ahead of time as the flavours will develop nicely.
Let the onion soak in a small bowl of salted water for about 20 minutes before serving. This is a great little trick for taking away the super strong onion flavour when using raw onions.
Once the meat has marinated, you can cook it on a barbecue; or if you’re me, on an indoor electric grill. The cooking time will obviously depend on the size of the meat pieces and the temperature of the grill. It should be nicely browned but not dried out. Once it’s cooked, use the remaining marinade as a sauce.
Warm the pitas in the oven. When everything is ready arrange the meat, along with the tomato, onion, parsley, lemon halves and tzatziki in the warm pitas and serve. Alternatively you could bring everything to the table in little bowls and let everyone assemble their own pitas.
These were delicious, and would be great party food. Roll on summertime so I can buy a proper (Irish) barbecue and make these again and again and again…..
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Posh spring rack of lamb with fennel
Lemon, lime and bitters
Broad bean fattoush