Souvlaki Pork Skewers

By: The Local Palate
Pork Skewers on a plate with onion salad and bowl of tzatziki
Image by Chico Jones

These cured and marinated pork skewers are worth the wait. While the pork marinates for at least six hours, it absorbs turmeric, Greek oregano, and cumin, and when the pieces hit the grill, they crips and brown around the edges to develop a caramelized bark. A tangy and fresh tzatziki, made with refreshing cucumbers and creamy yogurt, cools the bold spices of the pork skewers. Top it all with a fresh onion salad of shaved yellow onions and lemony sumac for a spicy, crunchy bite to offset the hearty, earthy pork skewers.

This recipe comes from Ladino in San Antonio, where chef Berty Richter pays homage to his Balkan heritage with a menu that highlights both traditional and lesser-known dishes mainly from Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, and Israel and their neighbors, but with his own playful—and often seasonal—variations.

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Makes 4 to 6 skewers

    For the tzatziki:
  • 2 large cucumbers, peeled
  • 1½ cups plain yogurt (Richter prefers something more acidic, like Bulgarian yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2¼ cups chopped fresh dill
  • For the skewers:
  • 2-3 pounds Berkshire pork shoulder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (Richter uses organic)
  • 2 cups finely diced yellow onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 teaspoons Greek oregano
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes, chopped into large pieces, for grilling
  • For the onion salad:
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thin or shaved with a mandolin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
  • ½ bunch of parsley, chopped
  • Special equipment:
  • Bamboo or metal grilling skewers, gas or charcoal grill

The pork will cure and marinate for a minimum of 6 hours, so plan ahead.

Make the tzatziki:

With a box grater grate cucumber and strain to get rid of excess water. In a bowl, mix yogurt, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil until creamy and homogenized. Fold in chopped dill and cucumber.

Make the pork:

  1. Cut pork into large cubes, leaving some of the fat on. Sprinkle with salt and sugar and let meat cure for at least 4 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, add onion, garlic, cumin, turmeric, and oregano, and pulse until combined, then slowly add oil to make a marinade the consistency of vinaigrette. After pork has cured, baste with onion marinade, cover, and let sit for at least 2 more hours.
  3. When ready to cook, skewer meat on bamboo or metal skewers, alternating with peppers, onions, or tomatoes. Light a charcoal or gas grill.

Make the onion salad:

  1. While grill is heating, mix all ingredients.
  2. When grill is hot, place skewers on grates until you get a nice sear, then turn to get an equal sear on all sides. Continue cooking until desired temperature is reached, about 145 degrees.
  3. To serve, remove pork and vegetables from skewers, dip in tzatziki, and top with a bit of onion salad.

  • Recipe By
    Berty Richter of Ladino in San Antonio, Texas
  • Contributing City
    San Antonio
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