As I mentioned, I spent 10 days abroad at the beginning of this month. We visited relatives and friends in the Netherlands and then continued on to Corfu, Greece for a week. There, we also enjoyed time with relatives, swam in the sea and were honored with an amazing baptism and party for Mini-Whipped at the church in my father-in-laws village.

The Greeks that I have met on Corfu do not fool around when it comes to a barbeque. One of our family members builds free-standing, large grills with chimneys that are fit to hold a full animal… or barbeque an abundance of meat (like the above photo). People thought the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding movie was so funny when they mentioned a whole lamb on a spit in the yard. Well, it is a present day reality for many, animal head and all.

For my sister-in-law’s birthday, we set up the big, long table on the front porch, invited all the cousins and had an amazing, multi-meat course, red-hot-glowing-coals, tons-of-beer-and-wine-to-wash-it-all down barbeque. The Chicken Souvlaki is always one of my favorites. Small pieces of chicken, a few pepper pieces, oregano, lemon and olive oil is all it takes. I think that cooking the meat over wood charcoal adds a special flavor. But, gas grill or broiling would be an acceptable substitution since most Americans are not in the habit of having a 10 foot grill in their front yard. Often, the chicken skewers are served with pita bread (not a pocket) which can be warmed on the grill as well and Tzatziki (cucumber yogurt dip). Put it together with Horiatiki (Greek Peasant Salad) and you have a meal.

Chicken Souvlaki
1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons dried Greek oregano
1 Red Pepper cut in 1 inch squares (optional)
1/2 red onion cut in small pieces (optional)

Combine lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper and oregano and whisk together. Put in a bag or container with chicken and marinate 2 hours to overnight. If you are using bamboo skewers, soak in water for at least 30 minutes before using to avoid burning on the grill. Thread chicken on skewers, alternating with a few pieces of red pepper and/or onion if you are using it. Grill on high heat, lid down for about 4 minutes per side or until juices run clear. Serve with non-pocket pita bread (warmed on grill) and Tzatziki sauce.

Tzatziki (Cucumber Yogurt Dip)
2 cups plain yogurt (or 2 cups, thick Greek yogurt)
2 large cucumbers
1 1/4 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespon white vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and white pepper to taste

If using regular yogurt, put yogurt in a cheesecloth lined sieve over a bowl. Drain several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Greek yogurt is thicker and does not need the draining. Peel, seed and coarsely grate cucumbers. Drain well. Add garlic, vinegar, olive oil, sat and pepper to cucumbers. Mix well. Add drained yogurt and blend.