Souvlaki MeatballsSteven Raichlen
Vancouver may be the last place you’d expect to find a die-hard grilling community. Butcher stalls in the Granville Island market sell a staggering variety of meats that are already marinated and skewered, just ready to go on the grill. The following meatballs go by the name of souvlaki at the market. The flavorings—garlic, dill, and lemon—may be Greek, but the meatball format, the combination of ground lamb, pork, and veal, and above all, the fact that they’re grilled are distinctive to Granville Island.
- Advance Prep: 1 to 2 hours for chilling the meatballs
- Yield: Makes about 3 dozen meatballs
- Equipment: About 36 small (6-inch) bamboo skewers
- 1/2 pound ground lamb or beef
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1/2 pound ground veal
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea), or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Pita bread (optional)
- Feta and Cucumber Dip (optional; see step 4)
Step 1: Place the lamb, pork, veal, garlic, dill, salt, pepper, and lemon zest and juice in a nonreactive mixing bowl and mix well, using a wooden spoon or your hands (I find fingers work best). To taste for seasoning, form a small meatball and grill or saute it until cooked through. Add more salt and/or pepper as necessary.
Step 2: Wet your hands with cold water and form 1-inch meatballs with the meat mixture. Lightly flatten the meatballs with your fingertips. Place the meatballs on a plate lined with plastic wrap and refrigerate, covered, for 1 to 2 hours.
Step 3: Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.
Step 4: When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the meatballs on the hot grate and grill until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. To test for doneness, break one of the meatballs in half. There should be no remaining traces of pink. Transfer the grilled meatballs to a platter. Stick a bamboo skewer in each and serve at once. Pita bread and feta and cucumber dip would make good accompaniments.