Do you remember the first time you ate souvlaki? I mean authentic souvlaki?
You strolled down the narrow cobbled street under a canopy of bougainvillea, winding your way between colorful buildings. Architectural footprints left by previous civilizations cast shadows all around. The scent of gardenias wafted through the air as you took a seat at an outdoor taverna, the background buzzing with a quiet hum of chatting diners. You were at the Plaka, nestled at the foot of the slope upon which the proud and glorious Acropolis stood.
You thought you were in heaven.
So many years ago, yet you remember it as if it were yesterday.
As luck would have it, you need not travel across the seas to Athens to enjoy souvlaki, as you can find it sold by so many street vendors on the corners of most big cities. OR…you can make it at home!
This recipe is simply delicious and deliciously simple.
So what exactly is souvlaki, and why is it so droolworthy?
Souvlaki [soov-lah-kee] translates to “meat on a skewer.” But souvlaki is more than just the meat. In Greece it means the meal: the marinated and grilled meat topped with Tzatziki Sauce and wrapped in a warm pita.
Every time my Papou would visit, he’d bring with him his Souvlaki recipe. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could make souvlaki that even closely resembled Papou’s. There was something about it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I compared my recipe to that of Suzy Karadsheh (themediterraneandish.com) and saw that whereas I use white wine vinegar in my marinade, Suzy uses white wine.
Papou used a variety of meats for his recipe–New Zealand lamb, beef, and occasionally chicken. He cut the meat into uniform-sized pieces for even grilling. He would add lots of onion and bell pepper to the marinade with the meat. When it came time to thread the meat and vegetables onto the skewers, he would make sure not to crowd them.
Regardless of which meat you choose, I recommend marinating it (and the vegetables) overnight (although you could probably skirt by with letting it sit for just a few hours). This herby + lemony marinade will tenderize your meat while soaking it with sumptuous flavor.
Allow your souvlaki to rest for about five minutes after removing it from the grill. Serve it with seasoned rice and a Chopped Greek Salad. It is also delicious on a pita with a variety of condiments such as onion, tomato, cucumber, and Tzatziki. Souvlaki is fabulous no matter what you choose to do with it.
Is your mouth mad for this yet?
So now that you have the recipe, you need only to close your eyes and imagine sitting in the cool shadow of the towering Acropolis as you soak in the picturesque ambiance of the Plaka.
Souvlaki is delicious with ouzo or Prosecco.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Leave comments below and tag your photos #nakedepicurean on Instagram so we can celebrate together!
D@mn Delicious Chicken Souvlaki (for 6-8)
- 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup dry white wine*
- juice of 2 lemons (add the rinds to the marinade)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 large onions cut into 6 wedges
- 1-2 bell peppers, cut into 1½” — 2” pieces
- slices of yellow squash and zucchini
- pita bread
- tzatziki sauce
- tomato slices
- cucumber slices
- onion slices
1. Cut chicken into 1½” pieces and place in a long, shallow container. If using vegetables, cut them into chunks about the size of the chicken pieces. Season well with S&P. Set aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine garlic cloves, oregano, olive oil, white wine, and lemon juice. Pulse a few times until well combined.
3. Pour marinade over chicken (and vegetables). Add bay leaves and lemon rinds. Stir to coat chicken.
4. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight. Discard marinade.
5. When ready to grill, thread marinated meat and vegetables onto skewers over medium to medium-high heat, turning occasionally.
Allow meat to rest about 5 minutes before serving.