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This blog started as a way for me to share my recipes + culinary adventures, tips for vibrant health + happiness, thoughts on the latest developments in nutritional medicine + the low down on the Sydney wholefoods scene and beyond...

Greek lamb souvalakia, plus why you should marinate meat

soullachamberlain

Nourishing casseroles and bone broths might be more than just winter staples for traditional wholefoodies like me, but variety in cooking styles is important for a host of reasons. One of my favourite foods is lamb souvalakia cooked on the BBQ, which harks back to my early childhood. So if you're at a loss as to what to do with diced lamb (or even beef) and want a quick easy meal that is sure to please everyone's palate (especially kids!), try this (and I apologise in advance for not having specific quantities- it's so basic you can't really go wrong- just trust your gut instinct!):

Ingredients:

  • Wooden or metal skewers
  • Lamb, diced
  • Red capsicum
  • Green capsicum (optional)
  • Yellow capsicum (optional)
  • Onions
  • Zucchini, cut into 1 cm slices
  • Cherry tomatoes

Marinade mixture:

  • Red wine
  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin
  • Unrefined salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

Place meat in a large glass container/baking dish. Add marinade ingredients to well coat the meat (the meat does not need to be submersed in the wine- just enough to coat it on all sides). Marinate meat for several hours or overnight.

Cut onions and capsicum into approx 3 cm squares. Thread the meat and vegetables onto the skewers alternating meat and vegetables in whatever combination you prefer. Quantities of vegetables will vary depending on quantity of meat and how many vegetables opposed to meat are placed on the skewers. I prefer the skewers to consist of approx 2/3 meat and 1/3 vegetables, or half meat and half vegetables.

BBQ on one side then turn over to cook the other side. Meat is done when it is still slightly pink in the center.

Serve with tzatziki (Greek yogurt cucumber dip).

Variations:

Souvalakia are typically made with lamb but you could substitute beef or chicken. Add any other vegetables you desire eg mushrooms.

Why marinating meat is important when BBQing or using high heat

When meat is cooked using high heat (eg BBQ or open flame) or dry cooking methods such as frying, grilling or smoking, certain compounds are produced including advanced glycation end products (AGEs), heterocyclic amines (HAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These have been shown to cause inflammation (which is the root cause of all modern disease including cancer and cardiovascular disease). This applies to all meat, not just red meat. So while I love eating BBQ'd meat, I only eat it occasionally and recommend lower-heat cooking methods (eg casseroles, braises, stews, long slow roasts, or even raw meat) as more of the staple method of meat consumption. Research shows, however, that you can significantly reduce the formation of these  inflammation-causing compounds by using an acidic marinade (eg wine, apple cider vinegar, tomato puree). Studies show that marinating beef for 1 hour reduced AGE formation by over half and marinades can cut HA formation in meat by up to 90%. So marinating meat does more than just make meat taste great! For more information refer to this recent article by Chris Kresser.