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Old 08-10-2008, 05:43 PM   #1
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Greek: Souvlaki-Soutzoukakia

If someone could say Greece is well known for just one particular food I would have to say that would be the Greek souvlaki. It's easy to make and can be made low calorie as well!

Ingredients:

Soutzoukakia/Ground Meat:

1/2 kgr./1 lb ground meat
1/2 loaf of stale bread
1 garlic clove
dried cumin to taste (the more you add the spicier it gets)
salt & pepper
1 egg
olive oil
1 onion
vinegar

Souvlaki:

Pita Bread (lightly fried or toasted) or Arabic bread or good old sandwich bread
Tomatoes thinly sliced
Onions thinly sliced
Tzatziki
Red pepper/paprika
potatoes

Preparation:

* Soak the bread. When thoroughly soaked remove the crust and squeeze excess water. Place in large bowl with ground meat.

* In multi mixer place the onion, the garlic, the oil, and the vinegar until it is almost liquefied. Add to bowl.

* Add egg, salt, pepper and cumin to bowl and mix well.

* You knead the ground meat long ways aprox. finger-length.

* Roll them in flour.

* You can either fry them or skewer them on the grill outside or place them in the oven, in a lightly oiled pan, until well done.

* Open your pita bread etc. and place one soutzoukaki in the middle. Add tzatziki, tomato, onion, red pepper, a little salt, potatoes inside and close from the bottom upwards making kind of a funnel shape, small to large. Wrap with foil at the bottom so it will stay closed.

* You can leave out any of the ingredients you don't like and add more like ketchup or mustard, for example.

If you don't want to make a souvlaki you can take some of the oil that's left from frying the soutzoukakia and make a tomato sauce as follows:

Ingredients:

Soutzoukakia
Oil from frying or oven
Can of diced tomatoes
1Ts Tomato puree
1 can water
1 stick of cinnamon
3 cloves
Salt and pepper

Preparation:

* Add the oil to a saucepan along with all the above ingredients except for the soutzoukakia.

* Bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat until sauce thickens and tomatoes are cooked.

* Add soutzoukakia to sauce and boil for a few minutes more so they can soak up the sauce.

This is served with rice, spaghetti, or french fries. It is also used as a meze/appetizer with wine with or without the sauce.

Kali Orexi!! (bon appetit)

Ps If you try any of my recipes tell me about your experience, any problems you may have had and, of course, how it tasted!! :-)

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Old 08-11-2008, 12:01 AM   #2
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thanks faye.

i often order souvlaki from one of several greek diners here in nyc. although, they've always been made using grilled skewers of marinated lamb, beef, or pork chunks; not from ground meat.

often, the thinly sliced tomatoes and onions are mixed with celery, red bell pepper, a little feta, and romaine lettuce, then it all is roughly chopped before being put into the pita with the grilled meat chunks (skewer removed ). tsatsiki is served on the side, as it's usually strong with garlic.
i've also never seen potatoes added. are the cubed? and are they boiled or fried? i'm going to have to try that. i wonder if the differences are regional things in greece, or it's just that i'm getting food so far removed from your beautiful country?
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Old 08-11-2008, 01:31 AM   #3
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Thanks. Can I use plain yogurt instead of Tzatziki?
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Old 08-11-2008, 04:57 AM   #4
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Souvlakia are made with different ingredients here in Greece. You can find them with chunks of pork or chicken, with the soutzoukakia I mentioned, or donner which is slices of meat put on a really big spit one on top of the other so that they can't really be distinguished as separate slices. The donner rotates and cooks the meat and with a sharp knife the meat is cut lengthwise (downwards) removing thin slices of meat.

What I didn't mention about the soutzoukakia was that the ground meat in restaurants is usually half beef and half lamb. At home, though, we/I tend to make them lighter with just ground beef.

The potatoes are an extra that is added to the souvlakia. I don't know if they were traditionally made that way but now a days they are. The potatoes are fried as you would to make french fries.

If you want to make souvlakia with chunks of meat you would do the following:

Add to the skewer one piece of meat then one piece of green pepper then one piece of meat again then one piece of onion then one piece of meat then one piece of tomato and then start from the beginning again. This gives the meat a really good flavor. Of course you could do this in any order you like or even leave out one of the ingredients. In the end you would add salt and pepper and either grill or cook in your oven (lightly oil so they won't stick).

With chicken souvlakia we don't add tzatziki we add mayonaise and mustard mixed into a sauce.

Souvlakia can also be made into a merida which is basically one serving or dish. In this case you don't wrap it with foil you leave the pita open on the plate, add the meat (in whatever form you prefer, usually 3-4 skewers) and next to the pita put the onions, tomato, potatoes, sauces etc. so it can be added by the customer later as they probably do at the restaurant you eat. This is eaten with a knife and fork and not by hand as the wrapped souvlakia are.

As for the tzatziki...there are areas in Greece that don't add it to the souvlakia at all, or they add plain yogurt. Again you have to play it to taste.

One version that is made here, I think it comes from Armenia or Jordan but it's sooo delicious. I always look for it where I can, is a sauce made from tomato juice and red pepper/paprika spices. It's not thick it's runny. It's placed over the open platter version and is just amazing (even if it's not Greek LOL). I'll find out details and let you know :-)

Oh and before I forget, usually in the onion we thinly cut some parsley because it takes away the strong smell of the onions. Lettuce has been known to be added but only to Europeanized versions of the souvlaki...it's not widely used, though. I've never heard of or tasted it with celery or feta before. I guess the chefs are being creative. Find out, if you can, from what part of Greece they are from. :-)

When I lived in the U.S. they had souvlakia made from ground meat that was again a mixture of lamb and beef (I think) that was on a donner and cut as I mention before into thin slices. Do they have that in NYC?
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Old 08-12-2008, 12:04 AM   #5
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yes, we have the ground meats type of donner here, called a gyros. i think it's correctly pronounced "gee-rohs", and is also known as the arabic schawarma.

i've never had the stacked and sliced meats type of donner, but have seen it at festivals. i'm not going to pass up the next opportunity, i can promise you.

btw, i asked the cooks at my favourite diner (big nick's on broadway Big Nick's Burger and Pizza Joint ) , and the chunks of meat in the souvlaki are beef and lamb, as you'd mentioned.
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Old 08-12-2008, 02:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckytom View Post
yes, we have the ground meats type of donner here, called a gyros.
The gyros get their name from the Greek word meaning going round since the donner goes round and round.
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Old 08-12-2008, 08:51 AM   #7
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ahhh and the ones you get in the little street stands are oh so good!
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Old 08-12-2008, 09:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faye_arv View Post
The gyros get their name from the Greek word meaning going round since the donner goes round and round.
Ahhhhh. Never made the connection. I should have known since a gyroscope spins.
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