Never Fear The Perfect Souvlaki Is Here

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on July 21, 2010

Most Americans may not be familiar with many traditional Greek dishes, but I would say that most people have had a Greek gyro (pronounced yee-ro) or a souvlaki sandwich at some point in their lives. Both sandwiches are equally delicious but different.

Gyros are made by putting heavily marinated wedges of meat onto a large vertical skewer that slowly rotates and cooks the meat over several hours. As the meat cooks from the outside in, large slices are shaved off directly onto pillowy soft, pocket less pita bread, which you can buy or make yourself.  Souvlakia are a little different. They can be made with just about any type of meat, but pork is most commonly used. The meat is cubed and marinated overnight then placed onto skewers (souvli) that are quickly grilled over an open flame.  Souvlakia are then topped with any assortment of vegetables and spicy peppers and dressed with either a tzatziki or even hummus sauce.

Whenever I get a craving for souvlaki, I cut up the meat into cubes and marinate it for a few hours or overnight at the most. If you don’t feel like pulling out the grill, you can also cook them up in your indoor grill or in a sauté pan — you might not have that delicious grilled smokey flavor you get from the grill, but you will still have some delicious and flavorful meat.

***An original recipe from

Greek Souvlakia
3# boneless pork rib meat or pork butt, cubed

4 tablespoons regular plain Greek yogurt (or 1/2 cup buttermilk)
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoons pepper (or lemon pepper)
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Greek oregano
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
Additional S&P as necessary
Pocket less pita bread (plus a little more olive oil for each)

Tzatziki Sauce
3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh dill
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon salt (add more as necessary)
¼ teaspoon pepper
Juice & zest of 1 lemon
**very thinly shaved cucumber (optional)

Vinaigrette Dressing
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1½ Tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
S&P to taste

Sliced or diced tomatoes, hydroponic cucumbers, fresh onions, olives, red pepper, cherry peppers, marinated artichokes

Cube the meat into 1 ½” square pieces, trying to keep them uniform in size if possible so they all cook evenly, and place them into a ziploc plastic bag. In a small bowl add all of the ingredients for the marinade and mix well, and add this to the bag. Seal the bag and then massage the marinade and the meat well together. Put the plastic bag onto a large plate and refrigerate overnight. Every now and then turn the bag over so that the marinade has a chance to get to all of the meat pieces.

The next day, prepare your tzatziki sauce by putting everything together in a bowl a few hours before serving. Traditionally, very thin slices of shaved cucumber are added to the sauce, but it is not necessary if you are going to prepare the vinaigrette, which I highly recommend. It is very easy to make and adds that extra tang to the sandwich. I usually add some chopped tomatoes and cucumbers to the vinaigrette, but you can add anything you like.

When all the sauces/dressings are made, rev up your grill and skewer the meat. If you are cooking indoors, that is fine too…it will be equally delicious, and you don’t have to skewer the meat. Just add a little olive oil to a hot skillet and quickly sauté the meat.

I also like to brush the pita with a little olive oil and either throw it on the grill or add it to a smaller skillet to toast on both sides…this is a must for a really delicious souvlaki.

Once the bread is toasted, put it onto a large plate, add your meat and spoon some of the vinaigrette with the veggies on top of that. Add a few spoonfuls of the tzatziki sauce and roll it up. Serve warm.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar HollyT July 21, 2010 at 10:53 p

Also fantastic with lamb or chicken sprinkled with paprika. One of my all-time favorite food combos. Five stars!

avatar Caterina Borg July 23, 2010 at 8:47 p

Thanks heather…the yogurt in the marinade makes the meat so tender…let me know what you think of it if you have a chance to try out the recipe…

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