When I posted this photo on my Facebook page I wrote “burgers and kabobs”. However, since I got quite a few complaints from my Greek speaking friends (and working in a company with a big branch in Cyprus, I have a bunch of those 🙂 ), I decided to give this post a Greek spirit. So, today we are grilling mpiftekia – Greek burgers, and souvlaki – chicken thigh fillet skewers. And yeah, you’ll get extra points if you’re able to actually pronounce those names 🙂 🙂 🙂
The recipe for the patties I’ve published several times in different variations, so here it goes.
- 500g (1 1/4 lb) ground beef
- 500g (1 1/4 lb) ground pork
- 2 medium white onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh coriander
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tbsp coarse salt
- 1 tbsp finely ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Pinch of dried oregano
Note I do not use any bread or eggs – instead I prefer to let the prepared mince stay in the fridge overnight. It makes the proteins form new bonds and the mince becomes strong enough to hold a patty shape.
So, the ultimate secret of these patties – blender. But before you run away screaming “he’s processing meat in blender!!!”, be assured, I am not :). I use the blender to process the onions, garlic, coriander and all the spices, but salt, into a smooth puree. This is for two reasons – first, make the onion release as much juice as possible, and second – to ensure a smooth mince without lumps of onion or greens of coriander. This was my little trick to make my kids eat these burgers :).
Onion juice – that’s the most powerful meat tenderizer I know. So the more you make the onion release juice, the better.
That’s it. Knead it with your hands, add the salt and taste. I taste the raw meat, but since it’s a food safety issue, I do not urge any of you to do the same. Instead, you can grill a small piece of your mince or pan fry it to taste. Once you’re happy – wrap it with a cling wrap and let sit in the fridge overnight at least.
Next day, just before you’re ready to grill, let’s make the souvlaki. You will need chicken thigh fillets, ground black pepper, coarse salt, extra virgin olive oil and a bit of a lemon juice. Yes, it’s that simple.
Cut the meat into small cubes, skewer them on flat metal skewers – trust me, it’ll taste much better. Metal skewers get really hot and cook the meat from inside, shortening the cooking time making the meat more succulent and juicy. Once skewered, lay the souvlaki flat on a plate, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon juice, and let sit in the room temperature while you preheat your grill.
Grilling – really easy this time… For the souvlaki you need your grill screaming hot. In general, skewered meat is cooked directly on high heat, 2-3 minutes per side, having each side facing the fire at least twice (you’ll turn the skewers 4 times).
The mpiftekia – medium heat, direct grilling, 5-6 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of a shape you’ve chosen – patties will grill faster than rolls).
That’s it! Enjoy!