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February 15, 2017
The Souvlaki and Greek National BBQ Day

So my beloved friends… The day where the smoke from all of the bbq’s will literally rise from every home in Greece is coming! For those of you who don’t know,  Greek National BBQ day or Pancake Day or "Tsiknopempti" is a celebration in the Orthodox tradition where large quantities of meat are consumed, a few days before the beginning of Lent.

I hope it’s brisk outside but with a lot of sunshine… I say this because if it’s too humid the city air really gets saturated by the smoke and all of the wonderful smells..

I’m salivating while I am writing this but ok! :-)

This year, I’ve prepared a great tribute for  Greek National BBQ Day. But first, I want to tell you a couple of things about this day!

Carnival is basically everyone’s preparation for the fasting period before Easter. This period lasts for 3 weeks. The middle week is called Creatine and the Thursday of the same week is what is called Pancake Day. Traditionally any meat in the house is consumed because the following week (Cheesefare) is when meat is no longer eaten and only dairy products and cheese are consumed so that all of those types of products are done and no longer in the house before Lent.

Getting back to Pancake Day or  Greek National BBQ day.. everyone, even the most poor people in a village grill even a small piece of meat with the fat dripping on to the hot coals on the grill and the smoke that rises combines with all of the neighboring smoke and all together they rise towards the sky! All of this may sound a little pagan to some, but it may be a connection of the old to the new. A joining of the ancient sacrifices to the Gods and modern day religion, like so many other days during the year…

So! Moving on!

I’ve told you so many things… what new thing could I tell you about this year’s Pancake Day? I’ve told you that the best types of meat dishes are souvlakis! Easy and useful each time. But how can I make it a little different for you this time?

I thought I could play around with the marinades and with the meat selections; and try to make some more different and unique recipes. I want to start off by telling you a few things about the different types of meat.

So! Souvlaki can be made with any type of meat. Beef, pork, chicken and lamb. But what choice of meat to ask for? What part of the animal is the tastiest and what is the best way to handle it?

Let’s begin with chicken, where it is considered that chicken thigh fillets make a bee way for the juiciest souvlaki. Set aside the chicken breast once again or marinate it very well and don’t overcook it.

I have a great recipe here so you can make the best chicken souvlaki ever!

For the lamb, let’s set the leg of lamb aside and opt for a cheaper piece of meat like the neck or shoulder. I have a wonderful recipe here for lamb souvlaki!!

The same thing goes for pork souvlaki… 

Now, for beef.. Any part you choose that has enough fat is OK… but a great cut that you may not have thought of are spare ribs! Taken off the bone, it is delicious and has enough fat for a wonderful result…

I have an amazing marinade here, to make your beef souvlaki melt in your mouth

Moving on! Now that we have found the choice of meat, how should it be cut? “Well what do you mean Akis? Chop it into cubes and thread it on a skewer.”

Weeell, not always… There are also more interesting ways to cut it than just plain cubes.

You can cut it into strips and thread it on the skewer loosely like an accordion when using spareribs, or thread them tighter making a kind of large cube when using chicken thighs since the thighs don’t have the same thickness everywhere and it is not easy to cut into cubes.

When dealing with lamb, it is grilled best when the meat is cut into cubes. It is also good to leave some space between the cubes when threading on the skewer so that the meat can be cooked evenly… and of course you can always add a piece of marinated vegetables in between!  

And what about skewers? Metal or wooden? Personally I find that the metallic ones are the better choice since they transfer the heat into the interior of the meat much better than wooden ones. On the other hand, the wooden skewers can add extra flavor to your souvlaki if you soak them in some type of wine or marinade.

Everyone likes extra flavors, so soak your wooden skewers in wine or even in water for an hour before threading the meat and cooking so that they don’t burn. If you really like to prep ahead, you can use this process ahead of time and seal the skewers in a resealable bag and put them in the freezer until needed!

Oh! And one more thing! IF you have any leftover souvlaki… and that’s a big IF but since you never know.. remove them from the skewers and store them in the freezer in servings. They are perfect to add to your salads!

Well, that’s all I had to say!! Have a great time and grill and grill and grill!!!  

Condiments

Mayonnaise

Roasted Eggplant Dip

Grilled Iceberg Salad

Baba Ghanoush with Paprika

Greek Tzatziki Sauce

Roasted Radicchio

Greek Pita Bread

Check these out too! 

Bumbu Kacang

Pork Souvlaki with Bell Peppers

Greek Souvlaki Kebabs

Teriyaki Chicken Skewers

Some more goodies...

Appetizers Side Dishes and Salads for Mardi Gras! 

Carnival, Clean Monday, Ash Wednesday and Mardi Gras

 

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