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Monday, April 18, 2011

Wicked Kebobs


It's been an entire week since we enjoyed this dish for dinner, but I'm still thinking about it. They were good. Wicked good.

I saw Jamie Oliver make them on his new show "Jamie does...". He was visiting Athens in the show, and when my husband and I watched him make these tasty pork kebabs, I knew I had to try them. We love kebobs in our house, and pairing them with soft warm pita and cool, creamy tzatziki sounded heavenly. And it was. This is a simple recipe -- one you could easily make without a recipe after the first time. There are some basic flavors that repeat in each part -- red wine vinegar, garlic, dried mint. It took me a while to find dried mint I would pay for (sorry, but I will not pay over $6 for a jar of dried herbs). Kroger had McCormick's on sale so I got it for $4. I will use the whole jar if it kills me. I grow mint in the summer so in the fall I will make it a point to dry mint and never buy it again.

For the pork, Jamie calls for a pork shin. I searched on the Internet but could not figure out what cut of pork would be a shin. Odd. Must be a British thing. In the end I bought a whole pork loin because it was on sale and really a great deal. I cut it into thirds and froze two thirds. Basically it's the piece of meat from which boneless chops are cut, so, in essence you are eating pork chop with these kebobs. They are tender from the marinade, and, if cooked quickly at a high temp, stay tender. The flavor is inredible. I could taste the garlic, the mint, the oregano, and paired with the creaminess of the tzatziki, the sweetness from the peppers and the warm softness of the pita -- really, really good.

If you have picky little people, they can eat the pork and the bread, separately if need be, and leave some raw peppers for them to munch on the side. Maybe they will dip them into the tzatziki.

I paired the dish with a Greek Salad (found here) and it was all we needed for dinner. Except for a nice glass of Sangria.

I only modified the directions only a little, mostly to convert metric to U.S. measure.

Jamie Oliver's Wicked Kebobs
serves 6

3 sweet pointed peppers (I used red and yellow)
  8 pita breads
4 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
a small bunch of fresh dill, chopped (I omitted because my husband says he detests dill)
red wine vinegar
Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, to serve
For the kebabs
3 lbs. pork loin cut into 1-inch squares
1 T. dried mint
  1 T. dried oregano
juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup olive oil
  2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely grated
1 T. red wine vinegar
  freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

For the tzatziki
½ a large cucumber
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 small clove of garlic, peeled
  heaped t. dried mint
1 ½ t. red wine vinegar

If using wooden skewers, cut 8 to fit your griddle pan and soak them in a tray of water to stop them burning. Put all your kebab ingredients into a bowl and use your clean hands to mix everything together really well. Cover with clingfilm, then pop into the fridge for 30 minutes, or longer if you want the flavors to get a bit more intense (I marinated mine for several hours).

About a half hour before you are ready to serve, blacken the peppers directly over the flame of your stove (gas stove), in a hot dry griddle pan or over a hot grill. Turn them every so often and when they look almost ruined, pop them into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and put to one side to steam for 5 minutes or so – this will help their skins to come off.

After the peppers have cooled a bit, peel and de-seed them, then cut them into strips and put them into a bowl. Roll up your mint leaves, finely slice them and add to the bowl along with the dill. Add a few splashes of red wine vinegar, a pinch or two of salt and pepper and a lug of extra virgin olive oil. Toss and mix together, then have a taste to check the balance of flavors. Cover and set aside.

Cut your lemon into wedges.

Make your tzatziki by coarsely grating the cucumber into a sieve set up over a bowl. Add a few good pinches of salt, then use your hands to squeeze out as much water as you can. Pour the water away, then tip the cucumber into the empty bowl and add the yoghurt. Pound the garlic in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of salt until you have a paste (or crush with a garlic press), and spoon that into the bowl with the cucumber. Add the dried mint and red wine vinegar and mix really well. Have a taste to make sure you’ve got the balance right, then put aside.

Preheat a griddle pan or grill on a high heat. Thread the skewers through the marinated pork pieces, leaving little spaces between them so that the heat cooks everything evenly. Cook the kebabs on the screaming hot griddle or grill for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally until done on all sides. Warm your pitas in the oven or in a hot dry pan while your kebabs are cooking (I placed mine in foil and put them on the top rack of the grill -- some got a little charred and they tasted wonderful).

Put a dollop of tzatziki and the meat from one skewer on each warmed pita. Top with some of your pepper mixture, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Source: Jamie Oliver


Katie said...

I can't wait to try these! My best friend'S birthday is coming up next month--it's the same weekend our semester ends--and it's pretty enough in spring here here that I think we need to have a cookout. These would be perfect for throwing on the grill!

I might need to practice before, actually. ;D

For years, I was convinced I detested pork because of the way my parents made dry, flavorless pork chops for Sunday dinners at least once a month.

Kaylan said...

These look and sound delicious! My husband will be really happy with me if I whip these up for him. We honeymooned in Italy, Turkey, and Greece, and he has loved the flavors of those foods ever since. I don't know if you have ever made tzatziki sauce before, but when I have made it in the past, I've used fresh mint - you don't need as much as dried and it's obviously much cheaper - free in the summer when you grow it, but even in the stores, a bunch of mint costs hardly anything. So good though.

scmom (Barbara) said...

It's not hard to overdo pork chops, so I can see how it happens. The marinade is crucial to tender meat. And not overcooking. I think your parents were probably afraid of getting food born illness.

I bet you can pull this recipe off with no practice -- just go with your instincts.As long as you don't over cook the pork you can't go wrong.

I would normally choose fresh mint over dry but Jamie made it a point to stress using dried for this recipe. I think the flavors of the dried were definitely different than fresh -- maybe they go better with the flavors of the pork. I don't usually use mint in my tzatziki, so I don't know the difference. I do usually add some fresh lemon juice. It's all good with Greek yogurt!

Esther G. said...

Barbara, the shish kabobs look very yummy (or ono in Hawaiian). I am not a big fan of pork but I think I would like this very much. Mahalo!

Carina said...

I grew up eating kebobs (my adoptive mom is Armenian), but they were always made from lamb (shish kebob) or ground beef (lulu kebobs). I have never heard of pork kebobs, but it sounds like a yummy choice!

Barb, sfo said...

That looks delicious!! My husband has been having some problems eating pork (it causes gout) but I bet this would be wonderful with chicken. This is a must-try!

scmom (Barbara) said...

Lamb would definitely be the "normal" meat choice for Greek kebobs, but my children don't like lamb much. Pork is the perfect alternative -- it's a blank slate for the marinade.

Didn't know that about pork. Chicken would be good -- not sure you would even have to cook it as long as the pork.

Barb, sfo said...

It's a trigger for him, we've found. Unfortunately, we found it out for SURE after I'd invested in a 10-lb pork loin. I have 3 bags of pork chops and 2 roasts in the freezer. Not sure when we'll ever eat them! (I'm not much of a pork fan but I put up with it every once in a while)

Barb, sfo said...

And the verdict is...great with chicken! Thanks for the recipe. Yum.

scmom (Barbara) said...

Thanks for letting me know, Barb. I usually use Annie's Easts recipe for Chicken Gyros but Jamie's recipe is so easy. You really should try the peppers though...yum!