I’m grilling under a clear, blue sky, with a wispy cloud that looks like a paintbrush dragged across the sky. Most of the trees are bare; one slowpoke is covered with blazing red leaves.
It is warm in the sun. Here on the deck, in the shadow of my house, I’m glad I’m wearing a sweatshirt. The wind has a brisk edge. I take a deep breath, enjoying the feel of the cold down in my lungs, the smell of smoke from the grill.
Why do people stop grilling after
memorial labor day? I know I’m a fanatic. I will grill when ice and snow cover my deck. But today? Today is fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit, and the sun is shining. It’s a perfect, crisp fall day, and I can’t fathom why someone would not fire up the grill.
Pork Souvlaki is ideal for fall grilling. Pork shoulder, my favorite, is cut into cubes and marinated in a classic Greek combination of lemon, onion, garlic and and spices. Skewer it and cook it long. Pork shoulder is almost impossible to overcook; cook it long enough, and the results are tender and shreddable on the inside, with a crispy, bacony crust.
I have two tricks in this recipe. The first is to brinerate instead of marinate – there is a lot of salt in the marinade, to give it a brining effect and pull flavor inside of the meat. (Normal marinades only affect the outside of the meat; a brinerade helps season the meat all the way through.) Second, I cook over medium heat, stretching out the cooking time, so the pork shoulder can cook to well done before the outside is burnt. If pork shoulder is cooked quickly, there is a good crust, but the inside is tough. Longer, slower cooking breaks down all the interior fat and connective tissue, making the pork shoulder moist and juicy.
Cook time: 16 minutes
- Grill (I use a Weber Summit. Here is the current version of my grill.)
- Skewers (Metal or bamboo – soak bamboo skewers for an hour before using)
- 3 pounds pork shoulder, fat trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
- Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 onion, grated or minced
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Marinate the pork: Combine all the marinade ingredients in a gallon zip-top bag, add the cubed pork shoulder, and massage until the pork is evenly covered with marinade. Squeeze all the air out of the bag and seal. Marinate, refrigerated, for 2 to 4 hours.
2. Prepare the grill: Prepare the grill for cooking on direct medium heat. On a gas grill, preheat the grill with all burners on high for 15 minutes, then clean the grill grate with a grill brush. Turn the burners down to medium, and the grill is ready.
3. Skewer and grill the pork: While the grill is pre-heating, remove the pork from the marinade, wiping off as much marinade as possible. Thread the pork onto skewers. Once the grill is preheated, put the pork skewers over the direct medium heat and grill for 4 minutes, or until browned. Turn the kebab a quarter turn and grill for 4 more minutes. Repeat until all four sides are well browned, about 16 minutes total.
4. Serve:Put the skewers on a platter and rest for ten minutes, then serve with lemon wedges, pita bread and tzatziki sauce.
Notes:*Do not marinate the pork for more than four hours. Beyond that, the acid in the lemon juice will start to cook the outside of the pork, and the high concentration of salt will make the pork too salty. If you want to marinate overnight, skip the lemon juice, and cut the salt back to 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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