Meat 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.
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.