Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Souvlaki - WCFC2014 : Greece

Our trip round the great (and not so great) footballing nations of the world has reached number 3 in Group C, and as is customary, we'll start with some fun facts about Greece

1. Greek citizens are required by law to vote in elections.  This is presumably because they invented the whole democracy thing...
2. Greece is the world's leading producer of Sea Sponges
3. Football is the national sport of Greece.  They must be good at it then (checks results. Hmmm hold that thought)

And that brings us, in a roundabout way, to the dish I've chosen for Greece, souvlaki (Which has nothing at all to do with the Slowdive album of the same name, 90's shoe-gazing indie fans...) but it a fast food that is popular in Greece.

One of the things I hate is watching a TV chef lecturing me about how, instead of eating a burger, kebab or other fast food, it's really easy and healthy to make your own.  Whilst this may be perfectly true, it's kind of missing the point. When I want a greasy kebab, I'm usually drunk, on the way home from the pub and in no fit state to have a crack at anything more elaborate than opening a bag of crisps.  Therefore takeaway food is the perfect solution and all those multi-millionaire TV cooks so 'do one' in the parlance of the youth. 

The same thing goes for any restaurant that advertises 'dirty' burgers. No, sir, your burger is prepared with the finest ingredients, served on a clean plate that I sit in your tastefully decorated establishment to eat with a knife and fork.  There is nothing 'dirty' about it.  'Dirty' is a burger from a pizza/kebab/fried chicken/burger shop at 2am that drips with grease and assorted and unidentifiable other sauces.  Anything else is simply for people with too much money and too little sense trying to relive their student days in the safety of a street food vendors. (takes deep breath and thinks about meat to calm down...)

That being said... if I could get my hands on some awesome souvlaki at 2am, I would die a happy happy, drunk man. Its a tasty, meaty, sloppy delight and would work just as well for a family BBQ as a tasty snack. Still, I'm not trying to claim it will replace your takeaway treat, I'd never be that much of a hypocrite...

Ingredients (Makes 4)

For the Souvlaki
500g Shoulder of Pork
30ml Lemon Juice
3tbsp Olive Oil
1tsp Dried Oregano
1tsp Dried Mint
1tsp Chili Flakes
4 Cloves Garlic
Salt and Pepper

For the Peppers
3 Peppers

For the Flatbreads
200g Self Raising Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
200g Greek Yogurt

For the Tzatziki
1/2 Cucumber
200ml Greek Yoghurt
1tsp Dried Mint
4 Cloves Garlic
2tbsp Lemon Juice

1. Mix the ingredients for the marinade and cover the meat. Put in the fridge overnight.  At the same time, soak 4 wooden skewers to stop them from burning when you grill/BBQ the meat

2. Grate the cucumber, then squeeze as much of the liquid out of it as you can.  Add this to the yoghurt along with the mint, crushed garlic and lemon juice. Mix well and refrigerate until needed

3.  Heat your grill to maximum and put the peppers under it.  Keep turning them until the skins are charred and black on all sides.  Remove from the heat and put into a bowl, then cover with cling film and allow to cool.  Then remove the skin, seeds and stalk and cut into strips.  Put aside until needed.

4.  Make the dough for the flatbreads by combining all the ingredients and kneeding for 3 minutes.  Then cut into 4 chunks and roll into flat circles about 15cm in diameter.

5.  Put the meat on the skewers and then put under a hot grill (or BBQ) until they are cooked through - about 10-15 minuted, depending on the size of the chunks. 

6.  Heat a griddle pan and cook the flatbreads for about 2 minutes per side

7.  Assemble the dish - put some tzatziki on the flatbread then peppers and finally chucks of pork.  Eat them with your hands, not knife and fork, and from a polystyrene carton for that '2am takeaway' feeling, or possibly overlooking a sunny Mediterranean beach for that authentic Greek feel

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