Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

The Outdoor Oven

istockphoto/Arpad Nagy-Bagoly

When it gets hot, cooking inside can become a chore. As the old saying goes, if you can’t stand the heart, get out of the kitchen. Men cook out. Somehow even the guys who “don’t cook” volunteer immediately for grill duty. The best thing about a grill — especially a gas grill — is that it is actually a big gas oven and stove top rolled into one. I frequently use mine to cook fish or do some frying as the cooking odours are confined to the great outdoors.

But when it gets hot, my Mediterranean blood begins to stir. My thoughts turn to grilled meats– chicken, lamb or beef — vegetables and breads with yoghurt-cucumber sauce. Kebobs, kebabs, shishkabab, souvlaki, whatever you call them, are a crowd pleaser and a very easy dinner to make for guests used to more “standard” fare. It’s supposed to be a nice weekend…

The Easy and Elegant Life Chicken Souvlaki (substitute lamb or beef, if you prefer, cook until well done.)
Soak the bamboo skewers in water for an hour or use metal ones.

Tzitziki (yoghurt-cucumber)
1 container of plain Greek yoghurt (or regular yoghurt, drained for a couple of hours through cheesecloth)
1/2 a medium cucumber, shredded through a grate, salted and pressed in a towel to remove some of the water. (Or you can drain in a colander whilst the yoghurt is draining.)
1-2 cloves of garlic
lemon juice

Combine and chill whilst the meat is marinating to meld the flavours.

For the souvlaki
About a pound of Boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into approximately 1 inch cubes
1 Red or green pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces, white pith removed.
1 large Yellow or white onion, cut into 1 inch chunks

Cherry tomatoes (which will go onto their own skewer)

Mix together a marinade of:
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Splash of Red Wine
3 cloves Garlic
Fresh Oregano
Fresh mint (optional)

Add the meat and marinate for three hours.

Heat the grill to smoking hot, thread the meat and vegetables onto skewers (the more delicate cherry tomatoes get their own skewer.) Cook the souvlaki, turning once, for approximately five minutes per side. (You’ll know that they are ready when they release from the grill instead of having to pry them up.)

Meanwhile, brush pita bread with olive oil and sprinkle with some sea salt. Grill bread. Spread with the tzitzki sauce, layer in some lettuce leaves if you’d like, and make a sandwich, or serve the souvlaki along with rice pilaf (rice cooked in chicken broth), the tomatoes and bread on the side.

Drink a Beaujolais or a Sauvignon Blanc.

3 thoughts on “The Outdoor Oven

  1. Meg,

    I’m hopping on a plane right now . . . swing by the airport and pick me up and we head to the house for dinner. yay.

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