Didn’t take long for me to dive right into my new cook book and start sharing, did it? I’ve been going through it over the past week looking at sausages and getting ideas, but as I mentioned before there’s a lot more to Charcuteria than you’d think. This recipe for grilled kebabs with Moorish influenced seasoning jumped out at me and since summer is approaching I thought it would be a good one to try first.
You’re probably wondering why grilled meat is in a book about Spanish curing and sausage making techniques. It’s because of a marinade. One of the sections in Charcuteria is all about adobo, a garlicky pimenton paste-like sauce which you can put on just about anything. Bright red, tangy, spicy, and smoky. Think Spanish buffalo wing sauce but wayyyyyyy better and no bleu cheese dressing. Actually, adobo would make an awesome wing sauce. Hmmm…something to think about.
I was intrigued by one little technique used in making the adobo, making a garlic and salt paste with a mortar and pestle for seasoning the adobo. Never thought to do this before but I must say, the technique gives you a ridiculously flavorful garlic salt. To say it packs a punch is an understatement. According to the book, making this ajosal is one way to really get the garlic flavor incorporated throughout a sausage when mixing it in. Definitely using this technique the next time I make sausage with a garlic profile in it. Welcome to flavor country.
Back to the pinchos morunos.
Generally speaking, pinchos (or pintxos) are small bar snacks served on toothpick or skewer in northern Spain. If you’ve been to Spain and went to a bar, you know what I’m talking about, platters of different snacks you can pick and choose from. From our trips to Barcelona, I seem to recall they count the toothpicks on your plate when figuring out how much you owe for the pinchos. My Scottish brother-in-law and I usually had a lot of toothpicks on ours.
Anyway, you may have figured out the moruno part of pinchos morunos relates to the Moors and their influence on Spanish flavors. Way back in the 8th century the Moors invaded Spain from North Africa and brought their spices with them. Those spices and seasonings stuck around and found their way into Spanish cuisine. If you see a dish with Moro or Moruno in the title you can be pretty sure there’s Moroccan-like flavors in it with cumin and coriander being very recognizable.
And that’s the flavor these little marinated pieces of grilled pork have. Delicious. Do yourself a favor and save a couple tablespoons of the adobo to brush on the skewers when grilling. Trust me on this.
Also trust me when I say do not wear anything white when making the adobo!
Pinchos Morunos (from Charcuteria, The Soul of Spain, by Jeffery Weiss)
- 1 C adobo
- 4 Tbs Moruno spices
- 2 lbs pork, cut into cubes
- 2 shallots, sliced
- ¼ C olive oil
- 2 Tbs vinegar (sherry or red wine or rice)
Take the adobo, put into a large bowl, and mix in the spices and shallots. Stir in the olive oil and vinegar. Reserve ¼ C of the marinade.
Place the pork into the bowl, smothering with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate overnight in the fridge.
Heat up your grill. Skewer the meat chunks onto metal skewers (or wooden ones soaked in water to prevent burning while on the grill).
Grill the pinchos muranos to desired doneness, brush some of the reserved seaseoned adobo on while grilling.
Eat while hot.
For the Adobo
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbs kosher salt
- 1 Tbs oregano
- 2 Tbs pimenton (he says dulce but all I had was picante, which worked fine)
- ¼ C olive oil
- ¼ C sherry vinegar (again can use red wine vinegar or rice vinegar)
- ¼ C water
Using a mortar and pestle mash the garlic cloves and salt together making a thick paste. Grind in the oregano and pimenton.
Next, mix in the oil. Then the vinegar. And finish with the water. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about a cup.
Moruno Spice Mixture (I halved this from the original)
- 2 Tbs cumin seeds
- 1 Tbs coriander seeds
- 1 Tbs fennel seeds
- 1 Tbs black peppercorns
- Pinch of saffron
- 1 Tbs oregano
- 1 Tbs thyme
- 1 Tbs pimenton (again he calls for dulce but I used picante)
- 1 Tbs ground black pepper
- ½ Tbs turmeric
In a pan on the stove, toast the cumin, coriander, fennel, saffron, and black peppercorns. Crush into a powder with mortar and pestle. Add the remaining ingredients and crush together.