Pork Kebabs in the Style of the Moors

Pork Kebabs in the Style of the Moors
Reprinted with permission from Tapas: Sensational Small Plates from Spain by Joyce Goldstein (Chronicle Books, 2009). © 2009 by Joyce Goldstein.

Serves 8

Here is an example of Christian Spain adapting the flavors of Moorish Spain to their favorite meat. Originally made with lamb, these spicy pork morsels are served at tapas bars all over Spain.

To dress up this classic in summertime, brush peach halves with some of the marinade and grill them along with the kebabs. I like to use pork tenderloins for this recipe because they are a good size and are tender.

1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted in a dry pan until fragrant, finely ground
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed and steeped in 2 tablespoons hot water
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Lemon wedges for serving

1. In a small saucepan, combine the oil, cumin, sweet and hot paprika, saffron infusion, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper and warm over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes to release the aromas of the seasonings. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

2. Place the pork in a bowl and rub with the oil mixture, coating evenly. Add the garlic, parsley, and lemon juice and toss well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

3. Soak bamboo skewers in water to cover for 30 minutes. Prepare a fire in a charcoal or gas grill, or preheat the broiler.

4. Drain the skewers. Remove the pork from the marinade, thread onto the skewers, and sprinkle with salt. Place on the grill rack, or arrange on a broiler pan and slip under the broiler. Grill or broil, turning once, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side.

5. Serve the skewers with lemon wedges.

Wine Suggestions:

Spanish: Tempranillo/blend Rioja, La Mancha, Catalonia; Cabernet/blend Penedès, Costers del Segre

Non-Spanish: Barbera Italy; Merlot/blend France, Chile, Washington

• Watch carefully when toasting seeds and nuts. They go from fragrant and just beginning to color to burnt and bitter in seconds.

• Saffron threads are the stigmas of the pretty crocus sativus plant. Cultivating the plants and hand-harvesting the stigmas is very labor intensive and, since each plant has only three stigmas, saffron is expensive. It's aromatic, with a subtle sweetness that enhances dishes in a way like no other spice. Steeping saffron in liquid or toasting it in a dry pan releases its natural oil.

• Buy saffron in the smallest quantity you can. Two reliable sources with online ordering are Vanilla, Saffron Imports in San Francisco (www.saffron.com) and Penzey's (www.penzeys.com).

• Pork tenderloin is a very lean cut that becomes dry if overcooked. In a recipe like this one that uses small chunks of the meat it's a matter of just a few minutes to sear the outside and cook the inside until it's just light pink in color.
As a kid I wasn't allowed white sugar (or any other white carb for that matter) and the soda my friends drank all the time was my yearned for elixir of the Gods. My mother's idea of a cold summer drink was fresh squeezed citrus. Now her creations are worthy of putting into print; long ago I saw them as putting the "weird" stamp on our entire family.

With no alcohol, no processed sugar and lots of tart-sweet citrus, it's what to drink when the heat index is up in the stratosphere. As you sip, the mint leaves are bruised by the ice cubes — just enough to let loose some of that cool snap.