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Chef Steve: Souvlaki

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IF YOU CAN'T STAND THE HEAT
A blog for a bold palette
Chef Steve Alls

SOUVLAKI

Don't let the title scare you. I'm not one of those chefs that believe "if it ain't spicy you ain't cookin'." But I do believe in bold flavors and I also believe that flavors have to balance in any dish you cook. They should be vibrant and soulful. But enough of that…

 

Every country has certain foods that define them. In the same way fried chicken and BBQ says America, souvlaki screams Greece. It has a long and storied history and it's an icon in Greek culture almost as much as Zeus or the Acropolis.

Souvlaki is a very simple dish. It's Greek street food. It doesn't get much better than taking some marinated meat, placing it on a stick and roasting it over fire! It's almost Neanderthal-like. Of course cavemen didn't have access to pita bread, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce like we do today, but they didn't know what they were missing.

Souvlaki made a huge comeback in modern history back in the '60s. Fast food was catching on worldwide and souvlaki, along with gyros, became part of the European food culture. In Athens particularly, small eateries started to pop up all over the place. It reminds me of that SNL skit with John Belushi where he ran a restaurant and all he had were two things: cheeseburgers and Pepsi. But instead of cheeseburgers and Pepsi it was souvlaki and gyros! As every food does, it eventually made its way to America's melting pot.

Souvlaki can be made using pork, lamb or chicken. Traditionally you cut it into 1" chunks, marinade it in lemon, salt and olive oil, place it on skewers and cook it over a BBQ pit or grill. My spin is a little different and it makes it much easier to eat. I combine ground lamb and chicken with some feta cheese then cook it like a burger. I have a great tzatziki sauce recipe to go along with this. I promise you will love it!

For more about Chef Steve, go to www.cookinwithkroger.com or email me at chefsteve@fox2127.com. See you next week.

Chef Steve Alls

SOUVLAKI BURGERS

Ground Lamb 1#
Ground Chicken 1#
Feta Cheese 6 oz, crumbled
Garlic 1 tbsp, minced
Oregano 1 tbsp
Salt & Pepper season to taste
Romaine Hearts 1 ea, torn in medium pieces
Vine Ripened Tomato 1 ea, diced
Avocado 1 ea, cut into slices
Red Onion ½ ea, shaved
Olive Oil 1 tbsp
Fresh Lemon Juice 1 tbsp
Salt & Pepper season to taste
Greek Yogurt ½ cup
Sour Cream ¼ cup
Garlic 1 tbsp, minced
Cucumber ¼ ea, peeled, de-seeded, grated
Lemon Juice 1 tsp
Fresh Dill 1 tsp
Fresh Mint 1 tsp
Olive Oil 1/8 cup
Salt season to taste
Pita Bread 2 packages

1. In a mixing bowl combine the lamb, chicken, feta, garlic, oregano and the salt and pepper thoroughly.

2. Divide the mixture into 6 equal pieces and then patty out to make burgers.

3. Cook the burgers on a grill or grill pan until they reach a temperature of 165°, the proper temperature for cooked poultry.

4. In another mixing bowl combine the romaine hearts, tomatoes, avocado and red onion and toss to coat with the olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

5. In another mixing bowl make the tzatziki sauce by whisking together the yogurt, sour cream, garlic, cucumber, lemon juice, dill, mint, olive oil and salt. *This can be made the day before and mixture placed into a towel or cheesecloth to drain so that this sauce does not become runny.*

6. In a 350° oven toast the naan bread until warm and toasty then cut each one into 6 even squares.

7. Build the burgers in the following manner: bottom pita, tzatziki, burger, fresh salad, tzatziki, top pita.