My mom isn’t actually Greek, but she married one, and so her souvlaki recipe is a bit unorthodox: She didn’t use beef, but rather the elk, deer—whatever hunter patrons at her and my dad’s restaurant would bring in from their recent kill. One of my first memories is sitting on the prep table the restaurant in Ogden, Utah, watching my mom season huge tubs of cubed pork or turkey for souvlaki.
When I told my mom that I was going to enter the 2008 beef cook-off with a souvlaki recipe, she thought I was nuts, but in true competitive spirit, I did anyway. And you know what? I won: a $300 prize, my largest prize to date. —Alexandra V. Jones
cubed sirloin beef, pork, or chicken breasts
good-quality soy sauce
Juice from 1 to 2 lemons
coarsely ground pepper
granulated garlic, or two fresh cloves, minced
dried Italian seasoning, or herbs de Provence
Toss all ingredients together in bowl and mix well. Marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Skewer meat onto soaked bamboo skewers (just soak them in water for a while so they won't splinter, or catch on fire—haha). You can usually fit four to five pieces per stick. When I make this using chicken, I always add zucchini and red onion between each piece of meat.
Grill or broil depending on cut of meat used, around five minutes on each side.