Once a month I get all motivated to try new recipes — the day the new “Food & Wine” issue arrives in the mail. This month I was stopped in my tracks while flipping through the pages thanks to a feature of “Fast Recipes” that claimed to reimagine classic Greek dishes. Having never eaten Greek food (I have no idea how it’s eluded me this long), it’s not like I was all a-quiver with the thought of whipping up my old exotic faves; no, they just had a really scrumptious-looking picture accompanying the recipe for Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki. I had no idea what Souvlaki is (I’ve since looked it up. This seems to be a skewerless version of it), but it said it would take me 40 minutes, had an easy list of ingredients, and looked perfect for a weeknight meal. Here’s the recipe:
1 1/4 pounds trimmed pork shoulder, cut into 3-by-1/2 inch strips
1 large onion, cut through the root end into 1/2-inch strips
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Greek-style whole-milk yogurt
1/2 European cucumber, seeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Warm pita, for serving
(The only change I made to the recipe is that I used pork tenderloin rather than shoulder, because it seems leaner and easier to deal with. But I’m normally a big fan of pork shoulder, so I’m not sure why I opted for that. I guess I’m just lazy.)
1. In a medium bowl, toss the pork strips and onion wedges with the olive oil, lemon juice, chopped oregano and half of the garlic paste. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and let stand for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the yogurt, cucumber, mint and the remaining garlic paste. Season the tzatziki with salt and pepper.
3. Heat a large cast-iron griddle or grill pan (or, in my case, just a large skillet) until very hot. Add the pork and onion wedges along with any marinade and cook over high heat, turning once or twice, until the pork and onion are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pork and onion to plates and serve with the tzatziki, lemon wedges and pita.
Presto! Easy and delicious!
This was super-duper fun to make, not least because it made the kitchen smell absolutely heavenly. Through a strange confluence of events, I ended up prepping everything before Pookie got home from work, and Boomer got home even later. Now, it should be noted that Spring Fever is creeping up on the denizens of Maple Hoo, and a kitchen redolent of fresh mint and oregano, lemon, cucumber, garlic and onions… well, it was enough to drive us all into progressive tizzies. I was in the thrall of the spring-fresh aromas, then Pookie walked into the kitchen and nearly swooned, then Boomer got home and exclaimed about how fantastic the place smelled. This meal was like a big plate of scrumptious freshness. I’d spent all day at work getting increasingly excited about trying a new recipe, and the whole experience of this didn’t let me down. Everyone should try it!
And perhaps the best part of all, by the way, was that I had extra mint, and there’s only one thing to do with that: make mojitos. (In a tall glass muddle 1 tablespoon of sugar, the juice of one lime, and 6-8 whole mint leaves. When the sugar has dissolved, fill the glass with ice, pour in 2 oz. of light rum, and then top off with chilled club soda. Stir and drink. Repeat the process from the beginning.) It was really the only civilized thing to do.
(Posted by Schnookie)