Pork Kebabs with Cucumber–Mint Yogurt Sauce

  • Serves

    serves 4


Redolent of oregano and cinnamon, these pork kebabs owe their tenderness to a red wine marinade that helps break down even the toughest cuts of meat, like pork shoulder, which is most commonly slow-cooked in the oven or on the stove top. The recipe for these versatile kebabs, which can be either broiled or grilled, appeared in "Bold Flavors, Ancient Roots," a feature about Cyprus written by William Woys Weaver for our May 2008 issue.


For the Souvlakia

  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 12 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1 ½" cubes
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the Yogurt Sauce and Garnish

  • 1 cucumber (about 12-oz.)
  • 1 12 cups yogurt
  • 12 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin sesame oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 4 pita breads, warmed


Step 1

Make the souvlakia: Whisk together the wine, oregano, cumin, salt, thyme, cinnamon, and garlic in a large bowl. Add the cubes of pork and toss well to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to let marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight.

Step 2

Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce: Trim the ends off the cucumber and peel it. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scrape out and discard the seeds from each half. Finely chop the cucumber and transfer it to a medium bowl. Stir in the yogurt, mint, oil, and garlic, and season with salt. Cover the sauce with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. (The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

Step 3

Arrange an oven rack 7-8" from the broiler element and heat broiler. Remove the pork from the marinade (reserve marinade), thread the cubes onto 4 metal or wooden skewers, and arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet. (If using wooden skewers, make sure to cover the ends completely with the pork cubes, to prevent the skewers from burning.) Season the pork with salt and pepper. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Broil the kebabs, generously basting with the marinade occasionally, until browned on all sides and cooked through, 20-25 minutes. (Alternatively, the kebabs may be cooked over a medium-hot grill for the same amount of time.)

Step 4

Arrange the skewers on a platter and scatter the scallions and parsley over them. Serve with the yogurt sauce and the pita.

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