Friday, March 27, 2009

Souvlaki with Yogurt-Garlic Sauce

Greek week continues. These souvlaki are delicious, seriously. The grilled meat and vegetables combined with the yogurt sauce make a perfect pair. In fact, if you have been looking for a good Greek-style yogurt sauce, you needn't look further, because this one is great and is quite simple to make.
This recipe calls for a lot of marinating time, so plan ahead if you can, the longer you can marinate the more flavorful everything will be. To make it a complete dinner, we paired these souvlaki with our Greek Salad recipe and warmed flat breads. It turned out to be a truly wonderful dinner. It was fresh, healthy, and delicious.

Souvlaki with Yogurt-Garlic Sauce
Adapted from The New Greek Cuisine by Jim Botsacos with Judith Choate
Pictures by Caroline
Makes 4-6 servings

1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano (I used regular oregano, and it tasted great)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds very lean boneless lamb from the leg, or filet of beef, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
3 yellow bell peppers cut into 1 inch squares
36 red pearl onions, peeled and blanched (I couldn’t find pearl onions, so I used red onion instead)
36 cherry tomatoes
Yogurt-Garlic Sauce (below)

1. Combine the olive oil with the garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a small mixing bowl. Remove ¼ cup, reserving the remainder. Place the meat in a medium mixing bowl, add ¼ cup marinade, tossing to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. Remove the meat from the refrigerator. Working with one skewer at a time, thread on the meat, onion, and tomatoes in a random order. (Note: I generally soak my wood skewers in water before using, so that they won’t burn on the grill.)
3. Place the filled skewers in a shallow nonreactive pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Pour on the reserved marinade, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours. (Note: I didn’t have 8 hours to marinate, only about 1, and they were delicious. Marinate as long as you can; the longer the better.)
4. Heat up your grill. Remove the souvlaki from the refrigerator, carefully remove any excess marinade with your fingers; season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the skewers on the hot grill, turning occasionally for about 8 minutes, or until meat is lightly charred and medium-rare. The time will depend on the desired degree of doneness for the meat.
5. Remove the skewers from the grill. Serve with the Yogurt-Garlic Sauce and warmed flat bread.

Yogurt-Garlic Sauce from The New Greek Cuisine
by Jim Botsacos with Judith Choate
Makes about 1 ¼ cups

½ large hothouse cucumber, peeled
3 garlic cloves, minced
¾ cup Greek yogurt*
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth. Place the colander over a bowl deep enough to catch the draining liquid without the liquid touching the bottom of the colander.
2. Roughly chop the cucumber and then place it in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the garlic and process just until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to the colander and set aside to drain for about 30 minutes, or until all the juice has drained off.
3. Pull the cheesecloth up and tightly twist the ends together to force out any remaining juices into the bowl. Discard the cheesecloth and cucumber, remove the colander, and reserve the juice in the bowl. (Note: We actually did this backwards; we used the drained cucumber in our sauce, and discarded the juices.)
4. Place the yogurt in a nonreactive mixing bowl. Whisk in the reserved cucumber-garlic juice along with the lemon juice. The sauce should be the consistency of creamy vinaigrette. You may not need all of the juice. When blended, season with salt and pepper.

*You can either buy Greek yogurt, which is creamy, thick, and rich. Or you can make your own alternative, which is what I did, and it worked out really well. Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth and place it in a bowl deep enough to catch the draining liquid. Use four cups of conventional, plain yogurt to get 2 cups of drained thick yogurt. Place the conventional yogurt in the prepared colander and let it drain for 12 hours (I did it for about 6 hours and it worked great). Discard the liquid and measure out the desired amount of the thick yogurt.

1 comment:

Chris said...

You keep publishing these recipes so fast and furious, our family can hardly keep up. We just had the Chicken Dansk ( tonight and it was fantastic. Very much looking forward to trying out the Souvlaki, especially the yogurt-garlic sauce. Sounds delicious.

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