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Shawarma and Gyro-Style Pork Plates offers different flavors than typical Midwestern meat-and-potato offerings. (Cristen Clark, Special to Agweek)

Food and Swine: Enjoy new summer flavors with Shawarma and Gyro-Style Pork Plates

Pork is king in Iowa but even I'm guilty of making the same recipes over and over. Summertime and grilling season brings a desire to experiment with flavors and preparation methods that will surely please the palate. State fair time is just around the corner, and there's nothing quite like a glorious pita filled to the brim with bold, flavorful meat and incredible toppings. Shawarma and Gyro-Style Pork Plates are perfect for a fun night in or a casual evening with friends.

You may be wondering, what exactly is "shawarma"? If you were raised on a diet of traditional Midwest-style meat and potatoes like me, this may be an unfamiliar term to you. When I first discovered this delicious treat, I thought the name was indicative of the flavor profile more than the actual cooking method, but I was incorrect. The Arabic word for "turning" is shawarma. Shawarma as a dish is layers of pre-marinated slices of meat stacked and roasted over a vertical rotisserie. The shawarma meat, typically chicken, lamb or even goat, continuously braises in its own juices and is shaved off and enjoyed. This idea of cooking was developed in Turkey in the 18th or 19th century.

The gyro is quite similar to shawarma and probably a more familiar term to you, whether you know how to pronounce it properly or not. Gyro is the Greek word for "turn" and gyro meat is a ground combination of meats that usually includes lamb, among others. This ground meat is packed onto the cone of the vertical rotisserie and meat is shaved off into the pita and garnished with tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce.

The most interesting thing I learned when researching the origin of these foods was that Lebanese immigrants brought shawarma to Mexico sometime in the 19th century and the locals made their own pork-centric version of tacos al pastor.

During the end of grilling, basting the cooked meat with a garlic and herb butter mixture mimics the constant basting of meat over the vertical rotisserie. Definitely don't skip that step and splash some of that garlic butter over the pita flatbreads before tossing them on the grill for an extra boost of flavor and richness.

When serving up these flavorful eats, try the traditional packed-pita preparation or make simple snack plates with the condiments piled high, meat on a skewer on the side and grilled pita triangles.

Shawarma and Gyro-Style Pork Plates give a different summer flavor than the usual offerings.

Shawarma or Gyro Style Pork Sirloin aka: Country Style Boneless Pork Ribs Plates

Serves 4-6 (per 1 ½ pounds of pork sirloin/boneless pork country style ribs)

For the "shawarma style" pork marinade:

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1/2 tablespoon ground coriander

1/2 tablespoon garlic salt

1/2 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/2 pounds pork country style ribs/pork sirloin sliced widthwise into thin slices

3 tablespoons plain yogurt

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes

OR

For quick "Gyro-style" pork marinade

1 ½ lbs pork sirloin, sliced to 1/4 inch slices, horizontally

3 cloves garlic, smashed

2 teaspoons Greek seasoning

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon oregano flakes

Juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon plain yogurt

2 teaspoons honey

¼ cup butter, melted

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Bamboo skewers soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

To a gallon sized zip top bag add pork slices, garlic and Greek seasoning. Seal bag and shake and massage bag to combine and coat pork slices. Open zip top bag again and add olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano flakes, lemon juice, yogurt and honey. Seal bag and continue to massage to incorporate. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 2 hours. *if an overnight marinade is desired, do not add red wine vinegar or lemon juice until prior to cooking as the high acid content will begin to cook the meat and leave an undesired result. Preheat grill to 400 degrees. Thread pork slices onto skewers, not packing too tightly. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side, basting with butter and parsley mixture, until meat registers 145F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from grill and let rest. Remove meat from skewers and serve warm alongside pita triangles and condiments, or on a platter or wrapped up inside a pita. For best results, butter and grill pita flatbreads while pork is cooking.

Condiments for serving:

Tzatziki sauce (for Gyro Style)

Tahini or Hummus (For Shawarma Style)

Fresh tomato slices or halved cherry tomatoes

Cucumber slices

Pita

Romaine lettuce

Feta Cheese

Additional fresh herbs such as dill or parsley, chopped

In a gallon sized zip top bag add turmeric, coriander, garlic salt, paprika, cumin and ginger. Seal bag and shake well to combine. Add pork sirloin slices and toss in spice mixture until evenly coated. Add yogurt to bag, seal and mix around until pork slices are coated. Marinate for 2 hours or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat grill to 400 degrees. Thread pork slices onto skewers, not packing too tightly. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side, basting with butter and parsley mixture, until meat registers 145F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from grill and let rest. Remove meat from skewers and serve warm, alongside pita triangles and condiments on a platter or wrapped up inside a pita. For best results, butter and grill pita while pork is cooking.

For the tzatziki sauce: 1 cucumber (English seedless or hothouse variety with thin skin) 1 ½ cups sour cream or Greek yogurt 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried dill weed) 2 small or one large clove(s) garlic, minced ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper Instructions:

Grate cucumber and squeeze out excess liquid with paper towels.

Place in a mixing bowl. Add sour cream and dill.

Smash minced garlic and salt together with the back of a knife to turn into a paste.

Add garlic and salt paste to mixture along with black pepper.

Stir well, cover and refrigerate until serving.

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