Souvlaki and Shish Kebob * February 18, 2014

Souvlaki Vs Shish Kebobs

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 Souvlaki versus Shish Kebob…is there really a difference!Yes there is and it has nothing to do with the type of meat used, both can be made with chicken, pork, lamb or beef. They both are marinated and they both are on a stick.

Souvlaki is considered to be of Greek Origin. The word Souvlaki comes from the Greek word ‘Souvla’ which means skewer. Shish Kebobs are said to have originated in the Middle East and Turkey.

Souvlaki is traditionally just marinated chunks of meat on a skewer, no vegetables. In Greece they were very popular for Roadside stands for people could eat them right off the stick as they traveled. The meat chunks cut into smaller pieces so it can be eaten of the stick easily.

Shish Kebobs are also marinated chunks of meat, they are cut larger in size and always skewered with vegetables such as peppers and onions. Bigger portions for they were served as an entrée requiring a knife and fork. Legend has it that the soldiers used their swords or daggers as the skewers to roast wild animal, skinning, cutting and threading the meat and roasting over an open flame, adding whatever vegetables they found along their travels.

Okay, so far we know the one difference is vegetables versus no vegetables, Yet the biggest and most important difference that separates the two is….the marinade!

Greek Souvlaki marinade is traditionally made of mostly acid based liquids such as vinegars, lemon juice, and red wine. The main spice is oregano and if you talk to my Greek friends it has to be Greek oregano!! Some add thyme plus olive oil, garlic salt and pepper. You will see that my recipe includes a bottle of beer. Of course this had nothing to do with drinking all the wine on hand one night while we were cutting up the meat!

Okay maybe it did!!! But it was a great mistake because I have been using beer in my Souvlaki marinade ever since and it makes a difference, I think,haha!!

The darker the beer the better, I have to hide a few bottles if I know I am making Souvlaki!

Shish Kebob marinade traditionally dos not include any of the acid based liquids or very little. Theirs is mostly olive oil and many more  Middle Eastern spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander and paprika. Well, my recipe calls for a little red wine and yes that hidden bottle of dark beer…. this way we start off with both and most of the wine and beer make it into the marinade, haha!

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Okay, so far we know the one difference is vegetables versus no vegetables, Yet the biggest and most important difference that separates the two is….the marinade!

Greek Souvlaki marinade is traditionally made of mostly acid based liquids such as vinegars, lemon juice, and red wine. The main spice is oregano and if you talk to my Greek friends it has to be Greek oregano!! Some add thyme plus olive oil, garlic salt and pepper. You will see that my recipe includes a bottle of beer. Of course this had nothing to do with drinking all the wine on hand one night while we were cutting up the meat! Okay maybe it did!!! But it was a great mistake because I have been using beer in my Souvlaki marinade ever since and it makes a difference, I think,haha!! The darker the beer the better, I have to hide a few bottles if I know I am making Souvlaki!

Shish Kebob marinade traditionally dos not include any of the acid based liquids or very little. Theirs is mostly olive oil and many more  Middle Eastern spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander and paprika. Well, my recipe calls for a little red wine and yes that hidden bottle of dark beer…. this way we start off with both and most of  the wine and beer make it into the marinade, haha!

 

Of course today you will find all sorts of variations, Souvlaki with peppers and onions that they call Greek Shish kebob, but has the Souvlaki style marinade. The bottom line is that you can mix and match any meats, vegetables and marinades you like.

 

Of course if you are looking to nab that Greek God or Goddess that you met and you plan on making him or her a Greek dinner; just make sure you find out what part of Greece he or she is from. Your recipe for success may lie in your marinade and not just in your spicy smile!!
Souvlaki Recipe and Marinade

 

Prep time: 25 min     cooking time: 10-15 min      Yield 15-20 moist, tender pieces

 

One Package of Pork Tenderloin (has two pieces in each package) OR
6 boneless chicken breasts or boneless lamb
1 large yellow onion (cut in slices)
1 bottle beer (dark preferably)
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup rd wine
½ cup red wine or cider vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 bay leaves
3 Tbsp. Greek Oregano
1 tbsp. garlic powder
6 garlic cloves chopped
2 tbsp. black pepper & 1 teasp. or more cayenne pepper if you like it spicy
1 tbsp. sea salt

Directions:
Clean the fat and silver skin off of pork tenderloin, split in half and cut into small pieces. Place in a bowl, add all of the above marinade ingredients (onion through cayenne pepper)

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Let marinate at least 24 hours, you can also use a Ziploc bag to marinate. One hour before you want to grill the meat skewer and place in a disposable pan and pour marinade on top. Light the grills at this time and after coals get hot spread coals evenly. Also, soak 8″ wooden sticks in water about 30 min before skewering to keep them from burning. Souvlaki marinade has less oil and more acid so spray your clean grate with cooking spray or a light rub of veggie oil to keep from sticking. This is not necessary with the Shish Kebobs since they have more oil in marinade.

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I am so fortunate to have been raised in a Greek family where I was taught from a little girl how to make some of the most incredible Greek dishes, learn family traditions that have hlpd me develop my passion for food, cooking and life!

The benefit is..….I have learned from the best!  My Mother, Mother-in-Law, Grandmother and Aunts. Then fused it with my education from Culinary school, other Chefs, Restaurants and Catering. It doesn’t get any better than!

This has enabled me to share with you the generations of experience and teachings from my Greek heritage and the endless knowledge and teachings from Chef’s and Restaurant professionals all over the world!

Remember you don’t have to make these at the same time. Souvlaki can be made for an appetizer, picnic or even casual dinner. Traditionally served in Pita bread with Tsasiki and a mixture of chopped tomato, onions, parsley, garlic and olive oil.

Shish kebobs are usually served over rice as a dinner with a big Greek Salad. Don’t worry my next blog will be all about Greek Yogurt, including how to make the best Tsasiki (cucumber, yogurt, garlic, dill, lemon ) dip.

Now we are on to Shish Kebob marinade and recipe…

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Shish Kebob Recipe and Marinade

Prep time: 30 min.        Cook time: 20-30 min     Yield: 6 entrée size or 10 app. size
of the moist exotic tender meat
One Package of Pork Tenderloin (has two pieces in each package) OR
6 boneless chicken breasts or boneless lamb
1 large yellow onion (cut in slices)
1 bottle beer (dark preferably)
1 cup red wine
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. Greek Oregano
1 Tbsp. Thyme
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. Cumin
1 Tbsp. Coriander
1 Tbsp. Turmeric
1 Tbsp. Paprika
6 garlic cloves chopped
2 tbsp. black pepper & 1 teasp. or more cayenne pepper if you like it spicy
1 tbsp. sea salt
I large green pepper cleaned and cut in square pieces
1 large red pepper cleaned and cut in square pieces
1 med red or white onion cut into square pieces

Directions:
Cut Pork Chicken Beef Or lamb in larger chunks than the souvlaki. Place in a bowl; add all of the above marinade ingredients (onion through salt) I
Let marinate at least 24 hours, you can also use a Ziploc bag to marinate. One hour before you want to grill the meat skewer and place in a disposable pan and pour marinade on top.
I always skewer in this order, pepper-meat-onion-meat-pepper-meat-onion.

If you have vegetables left, you can skewer them without meat, add mushrooms or squash and make vegetarian kebobs for those that don’t eat meat.  Although I truly can’t imagine living without my meat….I love it so much that sadly some days it is my only food in the recommended daily ” Food Group”, yes this is bad, I know!

Light the grill at this time and after coals get hot and partially white spread coals evenly. Also, soak 8″ wooden sticks in water about 30 min before skewering to keep them from burning. It is not necessary to oil the grate of the grill with Shish Kebobs since they have more oil in marinade.

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A few more tips: if you are making either the Souvlaki or Shish Kebobs for a large party , they can be grilled or broiled in your oven and still keep them moist, hot and delicious for your guests. Unless of course you like smelling like you are the main course and plan on missing the whole party because you are a prisoner to the grill!

No me, and to any of you who know me, I love to talk and mingle, but most of all I like to accommodate my guests with drinks and passing of appetizers, making sure they are happy!
The easy answer is a warming drawer; most give you the capability of moist or dry heat. It has been calculated that the perfect temp.for the warming drawer is 170 degrees .You would set it on moist for items in a sauce or need to stay moist and warm. The dry setting would be for fried foods that need to stay crisp, not dry out, but stay warm.

The problem most people do not have warming drawers, no worries I have the solution. Many of you with newer digital ovens do not realize that your oven can be set at 170 degrees. (whether it is convection or not). Just hit bake and them punch in 170 and most ovens will accept this. The salesmen never tell you that your oven can double as a warming drawer because they want to sell you a warming drawer as well.

Double bonus, your oven is bigger and has racks, so you can make many if not all of your sides for your Thanksgiving dinner and actually get to sit down and eat with the family!! To make moist heat add a cup of water, add nothing for dry heat. Your food can keep warm for several hours, so you can get ready and look hotter than the grill!!

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My house has always been the meeting place for all of my children’s friends; many of them grew up in this household. This is where the names Chef Steff originated, and believe me they were all fed well. They were also my guinea pigs for new recipes and they ate everything. They were converted to Greek and Gourmet through their stomachs.

I am very lucky they have all remained friends, so I am heading down to Canton to see my two handsome sons that graduated college last year, are all grown up with grown up jobs and live on their own in two separate places but rooming with all my favorite boys….I mean men!!.  I just need to make a quick stop at my Church for a meeting to discuss a Catering job for #225 and then off to Canton!

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Until next time…Chef Steff.

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