Greek Stick Meat And Lemon Garlic Potatoes

In this part of the world, summer generally shows up July 4. Up until that point, our skies are usually filled with rain. But this year, as it has been for a couple now, summer has been showing up early, and a great way to embrace the early start would be dusting off the grills and getting a head start on cooking outdoors.

Grilling even one thing outdoors means one less thing you need to cook indoors, which in turn keeps the house a little bit cooler. Although the potatoes will be cooked in the oven, it’s relatively insulated and the stove will not be used.

The Greeks have been enduring beautiful summers for quite some time now, and their grilling game reflects it. Souvlaki, one of their popular versions of meat on a stick, is generally grilled.

Minimizing the size of the meat by cutting it into smaller pieces before skewering translates into it cooking a lot faster, meaning the cook won’t have to hang out next to the heat for very long. The other important thing to note with skewered meat is the increase of surface area exposed to direct heat. This means you’ll end up with more golden-brown, crispy and delicious bits.

(Step 1) Preparing the marinade is simple. In a large zip-close bag, place two garlic cloves, minced; 2 tablespoons of dry oregano; juice of half a lemon; 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar; half a diced onion and a half cup of olive oil.

Take 2 pounds of pork loin (devoid of silver skin and fat) cut into 1-inch cubes. Add that to the marinade in the plastic bag. Zip it up and place in the refrigerator overnight. It can be stored in the fridge for up to two days before it starts becoming bitter.

(Step 2) As soon as you marinate the pork, soak the wooden skewers in enough water to cover them. Leave them in the fridge next to the marinating pork overnight. This will ensure the skewers don’t burn on the grill as easily as if they were dry.

(Step 3) For the potatoes, Russets are preferred and extremely affordable compared to some of the other designer potatoes like fingerlings. Simply peel them and quarter them lengthwise.

For this recipe, you will be employing a cooking method, confit, which means to cook in its own fat. Or in this case, a fat. In a oven safe pan or casserole dish, partially submerge 3 pounds of the russet potato wedges in a blend of liquid made up of a half-cup olive oil; four garlic cloves, minced; 2 teaspoons dry oregano; a half-cup of chicken stock (for this recipe, I use a chicken base to make the stock, just follow the directions on your specific product to make a half cup); juice of the other half of the lemon (used for the pork marinade) and salt and pepper to taste (about a teaspoon of each).

The oil mixture should go about ¾ of the way up the potatoes. If you need to, you can add some more olive oil to the potatoes to bring the liquid up a little bit. Allow the potatoes to sit in the oil for a couple hours before cooking them.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the marinating potatoes uncovered on the middle rack for about an hour or so and turn the potatoes about once every half hour. The stock and lemon juice will evaporate over time and the flavors will become vibrant as the concentrations increase.

When the potatoes are fork tender, meaning a fork will go through it with ease, take them out of the oven and place off to the side for a couple minutes to slightly cool before serving. The oil blend the potatoes were cooking in will have become a sauce. You can serve these potatoes as is in the sauce. This liquid gold can also be poured over hummus, used to wilt spinach, added to homemade vinaigrettes or poured over the pork souvlaki when it’s done grilling.

(Step 4) Take the pork out of the marinade and discard the marinade. Take the wooden skewers out of the water. Skewer the pork. Be careful not to poke yourself.

Grill on high heat. You will want to get a nice char, but be careful not to burn them. With the heat of the grill being as high as it is, you’ll want to hang around to make sure they don’t burn.

It should only take about 10 to 15 minutes. As the individual pieces of pork on the skewers are small, when they turn golden brown and crispy, it will generally mean they’re also done on the inside.

Serve the pork souvlaki and lemon garlic potatoes together on a plate, allowing their flavors to play off of each other.

Recipe box

Things you’ll need: 2 pounds pork loin, 1 cup olive oil, 1 fresh lemon, 2 tablespoons dry oregano, 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, 6 garlic cloves, 3 pounds russet potatoes, chicken base and half an onion.
Step 1: Marinate cubes of pork in marinade of olive oil, garlic, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and dry oregano. You can substitute chicken, beef and even firm tofu for this recipe
Step 2: Soak wooden skewers in water overnight.
Step 3: Marinate the russet potatoes in an olive oil blend of minced garlic, oregano, chicken stock and lemon juice for two hours before baking them off in a 400 degree oven for a little bit over an hour.
Step 4: Skewer the pork and grill on high heat.

-Martin Musialczyk