Out of all the Greek establishments in my neighborhood, my absolute favorite gyro and souvlaki joint is BZ Grill in Astoria, only two short blocks away. The proximity has left me little reason to cook the staples at home, but with a looming move that will find me farther away from these beloved pita sandwiches and platters, I realized that I had some learning to do in the kitchen.
I never really thought about the ingredients inside a souvlaki marinade before; I just knew that the meat always tasted bright and fresh. So I scoured souvlaki recipes and came up with a formula that I thought would best replicate the flavors I'm used to. After letting cubes of pork loin marinate overnight in a mixture of olive oil, red onion, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and Greek oregano, I skewered and grilled them off.
The pork was everything I imagined it would be--the lemon juice gave it a nice tang and the mixture of onion, garlic, and oregano made it taste distinctly Greek. The souvlaki just wouldn't have been complete to me unless there was pita and tzatziki nearby, so while the pork was resting off the grill, I heated up some pita, adding a dollop of tzatziki to the plate, and found comfort in knowing that even though I'll miss my around-the-corner souvlaki haunt, a fitting replica is only as far as my backyard.
- For the Marinade:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Greek oregano
- Salt and Pepper
- For the Tzatziki:
- 2 cups of Greek yogurt
- 1 English cucumber, peeled and grated
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs pork loin, trimmed of silver skin and excess fat, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes before use
- Pocketless Pita
Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Place pork cubes in a Ziploc bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and toss to coat pork evenly with the marinade, then open the bag and reseal, removing as much air as possible. Place the pork in the refrigerator for at least two hours to overnight.
Mix all the tzatziki ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours to overnight.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. While the charcoal is lighting, thread the pork cubes onto the skewers.
When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals out evenly. Grill the pork skewers until they browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8 to 12 minutes, turning 4 times during cooking. Remove the skewers to a plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes. While the pork rests, grill the pita until lightly browned on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Remove the pita from the grill and quarter. To serve, place pita slices on a plate, lay the souvlaki on top, and place a dollop of tzatziki on the side.