Pinchos Morunos (Spanish Pork Kabobs)

Pinchos MorunosMeat on a stick. ‘Nuff said.

I was at Leonardo’s, a tiny Spanish restaurant in Chico, CA. the other night. Not Mexican! Spanish! Some of you know the difference, many do not. In España, a “taco” is a swearword and a “burrito” is a tiny donkey – so just by the example of these two words it’s easy to assume that Spanish food and Mexican food are quite different. Spanish foods tend to be closer to Greek or Middle Eastern cuisine; using a lot of spices such as cumin, saffron, and garlic but not so many hot seasonings. I ordered from the huge selection of tapas, or, small plates/appetizers. Of all the great meaty delights though, this dish caught my attention as it reminded me of another favorite, Moroccan Kefta. The hot and succulent pork was so perfectly seasoned with a thick crust of spices – perfect warm weather party food. I had to take a stab at making it.

I scoured the Internets this morning reading recipes and landed on one that I felt was closest to what I had tasted at Leonardo’s – plus it was already quite in line with being paleo friendly. I’ll give the ingredients of what I used and follow up with some notes that I would suggest for the next time.

Pinchos Morunos

3.25lb (~1.5 kg) pork
2 tsp (~10ml) cumin seeds
2 tsp (~10ml) coriander seeds
4tst (~20ml) paprika
6 cloves fine chopped garlic
2 tsp (~10ml) dried oregano
4 tbsp (~60ml) lime juice
.75 cup (~.20l) olive oil

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the seeds and place into a large bowl. Into the large bowl, add the oregano, paprika, garlic, some salt & pepper, and combine with the liquids. Goopy. Cut the pork into cubes and toss to coat in the bowl. Once coated, let it marinate somewhere cool and sanitary for at least 2 hours. Soak wooden skewers in water during this time. Thread meat on skewers and place on ripping-hot grill for about 6 min a side. Eat hot on the stick. We had ours with grilled asparagus.

Things to consider for next time.
I used pork shoulder. Normally my go-to for ‘peasant dishes’ I may try a loin cut next time. The fat certainly added flavor, but it gave a chewy result due to the short cooking time. A loin cut would give more solid meat and react better to fast high-heat grilling. The shoulder meat would work better in an oven at a lower temp where the fat could have a chance to render- then blast with the broiler to char.

Weber gas grills are great, except when you need a large hotspot of uncontrolled flame. If you have a tandoor oven or jet engine laying around, use that. Any glassblowers out there? You know what I’m thinking. Let me know if you try it.

Save time and use the jarred fine chopped garlic in olive oil.

I had to grind and add additional cumin/coriander on the finished skewers. My skewers didn’t have that crust of spice. Leonardo’s must have gone crazy with the spice amounts. Experiment for yourselves.

I would let this soak for way more than 2 hours. Prep it the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight. Take out 45 minutes before cooking.

Oh, and make more than you’ll think you’ll need. If you’re deciding between 3 or 4 pounds of pork. Go for 6.


  1. Tony says

    Thank you for another great recipe! I am trying this one this weekend. Maybe I will pair it with that awesome broccoli salad from the other day. I have found your recipes simple, accessible (ingredient type and cost), and delicious! This is how food is suppose to be, keep up the great work!

  2. Steve S says

    Just curious about the foil on the grill. Is that just to provide an easier spot from which to turn the skewers, or is there some culinary reason for it (e.g., to direct more heat towards the skewers)?

    • says

      The foil under the sticks is so the skewer handles dont totally catch fire and disintegrate. The large pouch in back was my friends food he was warming.

      • Jennifer says

        Hi Dain & Steve!
        I saw on another website that the cook recommended soaking wooden skewers in water for 30 mins. before grilling. That way, the skewers don’t catch on fire. Saves on foil that way. Otherwise, you could just use metal skewers.
        This dish looks great!

        • says

          I also soaked the skewers for 4 hours. But even soaked, direct flame will dry and burn the thin bamboo wood. Metal skewers are certainly an option – I sorta like the flavor the smoldering wood gives.

    • Sarah says

      All the credit goes to Dain for this post! (But fortunately I do know the difference between the two…) : )

  3. Don Young says

    Thanks, this looks great. Glad to see Dain posting. Time to get a blog going “Paleo Dad”. Keep it up


  4. Cathy L from San Jose says

    Hi Sarah
    just posted my review of your book on Amazon good luck with the sales — I just used your book today to make a few meals ahead of time before I start a 6 night stretch of nightshift
    All the best
    Cathy L (San Jose)

  5. Laurelby says

    We always stop by Leonardo’s booth at the Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market! Empanadas…mmmm. Can’t wait to try this recipe and have Spanish food at home!

    Tapas bar at Basque Norte is also great. :)

    • Sarah says

      Ummmmm, empanadas? Aren’t those like deep fried white flour creations? Hmmm, recommend staying away from those goodies if hoping to find health and wellness through paleo!! : ) Best of luck to you my dear!!

  6. Danny says

    Is 2 tspn cumin seeds equivalent to 2 tspn cumin. I cannot find seeds anymore nor do I have a mortar and pestle. Thanks!

    • says

      Cumin seeds should be found in the Hispanic section of most supermarkets, if not the regular spice aisle. Often times you can find cumin and coriander seeds priced lower in the hispanic section than the regular spice aisle. Look for it in plastic pouches. I think I used El Guapo brand. I would use more powdered spice since the flavor wont be as intense as the freshly ground. My numbers are just minimum suggestions – I would certainly add more, perhaps a full tablespoon of ground cumin.

  7. Jeannette Holt says

    Read this post in the morning, the recipe sounded intriguing, I was in the vicinity of Leonardo’s at lunchtime so decided to try the restaurant. So glad I did. I ordered the pinchos morunos and the tuna, egg, olive salad–loved it all. Now I will try these at home.

    The owner ( who was delightful) said they will try to modify almost any dish to fit a customer’s request, but there seemed to be plenty of Paleo friendly items on the menu. Thanks for post; now I have a new place to eat out and new recipe ideas!

    • says

      Ana and Luis are super interesting! Thanks for going – they don’t get a lot of foot traffic in their location and I was hoping by throwing some love their way some others might experience a really fun time. Almost the entire menu is wheat gluten-free with a good portion of it being totally paleo-friendly. They will certainly accommodate your needs and probably have fun doing it.

  8. Julie says

    Made this today for a BBQ and it was a HUGE hit! Some skewers were meat only and some with onions & peppers. Soooo good! Everyone thought I was genius. Thank you!!!

  9. I run for bacon says

    I don’t have a weber/outdoor grill, but I have a tiny George Foreman grill (thank you, recent college days…). Hopefully this will work on it, and maybe I’ll just pour some olive oil on the finished grilled product and light it on fire outside in my cast iron skillet to get a real char… We shall see.

    If that seems like a bad idea, do you have any suggestions for those of us who are grill-lacking?


    • says

      Do you have an oven with a broiler? That would work quite well. If no oven, maybe in an apartment, I’d suggest picking up a cheap tiny charcoal grill (use outdoors only of course). Or pre-make and head over to a friend’s house.

        • says

          Well, the doneness is the doneness – things like distance from flame and Hi/Lo setting will be the variables. Preheat the broiler on HI for 5 min then place about 6-8in away from broiler, for about 5-7 min a side.

    • says

      Certainly could be made with chicken. Use the same method or look up Pinchos de Pollo for other ideas. I would use cubed chicken thighs as they have more fat and aren’t as prone to drying out like breasts. No one likes dried out breasts.

  10. Erin says

    Thank you for the great post Dain. I will have to make a fam jam to Leonardo’s, since we live close by but have never been (I didn’t even know of its existence). I’m really excited to try this recipe, since grilling weather is back! I may even learn the mystic magic of the BBQ/Grill, and my husband can be the one throwing back cocktails (probably not though…) I love this blog and I love the podcasts. Thanks for so much great info!

  11. Jenny says

    These look amazing! Today is my first day of the 30 day challenge- just finished Robb’s book last week. I am 23, a recent graduate of college athletics, and am blown away by how logical Paleo is- also a great way to feed my competitive spirit in my ‘non-workout’ environment. I work long hours, with little planning time for meals and I have made sure to have almost all of yours on-hand! A bonus has been that my boyfriend has the taste-buds of a toddler, and to have him comment on the quality of your recipes has won me some major points- so thanks 😉 Thank you for being so dedicated- I may only be 1/2 way through my first day of Paleo, but I know you will be a staple to helping make this a lifestyle

  12. Becky says

    Just wondering what your thought are on conventional fed pork. It is very hard to get pork that has not been fed grain and very expensive when I do get it. Even the hogs they catch wild here in Fl are castrated then fed grain to fatten up before they sell them as wild hogs. Wondering what the ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is in pork? I know that Chris Kresser says that conventional chicken thighs have an extremely high ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3. Justs want to know what your thoughts are.

  13. Heather says

    Made these tonight and my kids couldn’t get enough. I used a loin and they came out perfect. Marinating overnight was a great idea.

  14. katie says

    This was so awesome and so easy!! My husband said it reminded him of fogo de chao in Chicago! I’m slowly getting him more interested in paleo! We had it with grilled eggplant, zucchini, onion and yellow squash and greens.

  15. says

    Wow! Those screws look amazing. I’m checking this recipe out this weekend when I BBQ.

    I have always wonder if cooking with foil has any negative health effects?

  16. says

    Oh you remind me of many nights spent at my favorite Spanish restaurant in Mountain View, CA called Cascals… Tapas are so paleo.

    Your recipe looks divine!

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