I have a love/hate relationship with skewers. They're great when you have a lot of people over, cooking quick and to order, but they're also easy to overcook and not all that impressive. Rarely have I earned boasting rights from a skewered piece of meat.
Luckily, there are some solutions to make skewers better. First, brining helps the meat stay moist over the high heat of the grill, even if it stays over the flames a tad too long. Second is picking a great marinade.
The Andalusian region of Spain really has something going with the marinade for pinchos morunos, or "Moorish skewers." As the name implies, the spice mixture that adorns the pork is of Moorish influence and gives the meat an exotic, earthy flavor. Served in small tapas portions or the heftier skewers I went for, this is some meat-on-a-stick I can get behind.
- For the brine:
- 2 quarts cold water
- 1/4 cup Kosher salt
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of silverskin and excess fat
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes prior to use
- 1 lemon, sliced, for serving
- Type of fire: Direct
- Grill heat: high
To make the brine, whisk salt and sugar in cold water until completely dissolved. Place tenderloin in brine and place in refrigerator for 1 1/2 hours.
While pork is brining, mix together olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, coriander, oregano, turmeric, salt, thyme, and black pepper in a small bowl.
Remove tenderloin from brine. Pat dry with paper towel and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes. Place pork in a large resealable bag and pour in spice mixture. Seal bag and toss to thoroughly coat pork in marinade. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 1 to 2 hours.
Remove pork from refrigerator and thread onto wooden skewers. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill skewers over high heat until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 10 minutes total.
Remove to a platter, let rest for 5 minutes, then serve with lemon wedges.