Today was a most unusual day. Not in a bad way. More like in an unproductive way.
Jim is in real estate. Have I not mentioned that before? He is really good at what he does. Very cutting edge marketing ideas, uses social media in a great way, and just an all around nice guy to have on your side.
Anyway, his team had just finished staging a two story condo nearby, and they were all over there with the camera crew etc preparing the video that will be part of the marketing pitch for the unit. He also uses this new(ish) method of filming, where a specialized camera that actually has 6 cameras inside it, as well as 3 laser beams, is used to create his 3-D virtual tours. No fish eye with this equipment. It is so amazing- I can’t wait to show you what it can do.
So, while he had the three different film crews around, he decided this would be a great day to film our place as well. More as a “This is what we will do for you” template that will be permanently on his website. So our place will be the guinea pig that will showcase his talents in marketing etc.
Do you know how hard it was for me to declutter my kitchen?! Seriously!! I mean, everything in the kitchen serves a purpose. Plus this is also where all my props, backdrops, tools, computer etc are kept. But everything had to go. We turned our spare bathroom into ‘Clutter Central’. Everything that Jim or the team deemed unnecessary was to be stored there. Of course, once things started moving out, our place looked fabulous! Jim was all, “We should just get rid of everything in that bathroom.” Uh…no! I need everything in there. And are you going to tell the cats that their scratching post, perch and favourite chair are leaving? So, later this evening, I will have to clean out the bathroom, to make the rest of the condo look lived in again.
Dusting, vacuuming, washing windows, finding all sorts of new dust bunnies… it was a busy day yesterday. And today, I really couldn’t do anything at all. But it was so cool to watch everyone at work. They did a special one of my kitchen, that hopefully I can share one day soon. I need to have proof that my kitchen can be clean! If only to remind myself!! 🙂 But I could barely make myself a sandwich, because everything had to remain perfect for retakes etc. So for as much fun as it was to watch everyone at work, today has been the least productive day I have spent at home, except for the time I had the flu!!
But everyone has left now. So I can sit down and write out the following recipe for you all. It’s a recipe that’s perfect for summer. The other day, it was so hot, and I just didn’t feel like standing over a stove. But I knew we had to eat. And we can order pizza only so often. I found a bag of marinated pork shoulder and loin cubes in the freezer, and realized that this would be perfect for these summer days. Thawed and skewered, this pork would be so easy to grill up.
The marinade is a Mediterranean inspired marinade. Yogurt is the base. You can use Greek yogurt. Sometimes I will use skyr. To it, cumin, ground coriander and cardamom are stirred in, as well as lemon juice and salt and pepper. Most recipes would be calling for pork tenderloin at this point. I feel differently. Not only is it a waste of money, the meat is just so lean, that it doesn’t take long to dry out when cooking, no matter how well marinated it is. Enter pork shoulder and pork loin. These both have a bit more fat to them. This will help them hold up to a good long marinade, even being put in the freezer in the marinade. And once on the grill, it doesn’t take long to get them to a crispy char on the outside, while maintaining a juicy interior. And these cuts of meat just cost less!
I serve them with my tzatziki. Now, I’m not saying that this is a traditional tzatziki in the slightest. But it is pretty darn good!! And it comes together with much less prep time. My trick? Purchased labneh or skyr. Both are really thick versions of yogurt. And the work of draining and thickening has already been done for you. So why set up the cheesecloth and colander etc, to get the very effect that skyr or labneh will give you? I add one grated Persian cucumber (with the extra water squeezed out) ‘several’ minced garlic cloves, lemon juice, and a touch of salt and pepper. Because I’m using the small Persian cucumbers, no peeling is required. Just use the small holes of the grater, and whatever skin goes in is actually a pleasant texture. So another step eliminated! 😉 In no time at all you have a thick, creamy, indulgent tzatziki without the wait time of draining the yogurt. I can’t guarantee that you won’t need a handful of gum or mints afterwards, but it’s totally worth it!!
Grilled meat, fantastic dipping sauce, and a salad. Perfect dinner for any night, but especially these hot summer eves, when cooking indoors just seems so wrong. The tzatziki will be perfect with leftover cubes of pork, with pita chips, or with veggies. By the way, you could totally replace the pork with chicken thigh meat. Don’t use chicken breast for the same reason that I don’t recommend pork tenderloin. Chicken thighs will be so tender and juicy this way!
Now, I should really get back to moving stuff out of the bathroom. I can’t find my Vitamix!! Happy Summer to you all.
Mediterranean Pork Souvlaki with Labneh Tzatziki
Tender juicy pork shoulder cubes are marinated in a yogurt and spice mixture, and grilled to the perfect char. Served with an easy to whip up garlicky tzatziki thanks to ready made labneh or skyr, this is the perfect summer grill meal. Just add a salad. And plenty of mints!!
For the pork
- 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3-1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lb. pork shoulder or pork loin, or a combo of both, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Olive oil or olive oil spray
- 1 cup purchased plain labneh or plain skyr
- 1 Persian cucumber or any small cucumber , if you can't find one, then use 3-4 inches of a regular English cucumber. This will need to be peeled and the centre seeds removed
- 4-5 cloves of garlic depending on the size and your garlic tolerance!
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1 persian cucumber cut into small dice
- 1/2 tsp. sumac optional
- Extra-virgin olive oil grassy or peppery in flavour (nothing neutral flavoured here!)
Marinate the pork
In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, coriander, cumin, cardamom, 1-1/4 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. Add the pork and turn to coat. It can be stored in the bowl to marinate for at least 12 hours. Up to 24 hours is great. This should be done in the fridge!
For freezing from this point just transfer the pork cubes and all the marinade into a 1-gallon zip-top bag. Press out the air and seal. Give the bag and the contents a good massage to coat everything evenly. Place in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Place the labneh or skyr into a medium bowl.
Using the smallest holes of your grater, shred the persian cucumber up. It's perfectly alright if some of the skin makes its way in. Place the shredded cucumber in a cheesecloth or in several layers of paper towel and give them all a good squeeze to remove any excess liquid. Add to the labneh.
Finely mince the garlic cloves. Alternatively you can grate these as well. Transfer to a the labneh and cucumber.
Give it all a good stir.
Add the lemon juice, 1 tsp at a time, till you are happy with the consistency.
Add 1 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Stir and then taste. Re-season with anything you'd like more of!
Cook the pork
Transfer the pork to a colander in the sink. Drain until most of the marinade has dripped through. I will actually wet my hands and toss the cubes to help release the marinade. Make sure the pork has been at room temperature for about 30 minutes afterwards.
Divide the cubes amongst six long metal skewers. If you are using wooden skewers make sure that they have soaked in water for at least 30 minutes.
Rub or spray the pork lightly with olive oil and sprinkly lightly with salt.
Prepare your grill to medium-high (380-400F or so), or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
Grill, turning once on each side, until the meat is just barely pink in the centre and char marks appear, 7-10 minutes.
Divide the labneh tzatziki between 4 and 6 plates (I say this will feed 4, but it could feed 6 if you have some great sides, like a lemon rice or potatoes, and a hefty salad!)
Add a skewer or two to each plate. Sprinkle everything with the diced cucumber and a sprinkling of sumac. The sumac is optional, but like lemon juice or zest, it adds a lovely tang!
Parts of this recipe (the cucumber and sumac garnish) were inspired by Fine Cooking!