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Pinchos Marunos

Pinchos Marunos or "Moorish Kababs" are Spanish tapas enjoyed in tabernas (taverns) throughout much of Spain. Tapas (from the Spanish verb tapar meaning "to cover") are snacks eaten between meals, usually along with generous amounts of wine. The origin of their name may have come from the custom of covering a glass of wine with a piece of bread or meat to keep insects at bay. There are innumerable types of tapas but they are not so much a kind of food as a style of eating. Often tapas are eaten whilst standing at a tapas bar conversing with one's friends and acquaintances. As free-flowing sociality is key to their enjoyment, tapas are not generally served in restaurants or at home per se, although some of the exact same dishes can be served as appetizers. The dish goes well with wine or port.

Although found throughout Spain, tapas are most popular in Andalusia, sometimes referred to as "Moorish Spain," as the area was for more than 700 years governed by Muslims. Despite this history, Pinchos Marunos might have been brought to Spain by more recent immigrants from Northern Africa. Ironically, present day Pinchos Marunos are usually made with pork, which is haram (forbidden) to Muslims. Chicken or beef can also be used with delicious results. While "all meat" kabobs are typical, cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, and even fruits such as honeydew melons or grapes can be added for a taste twist.

Allioli, or garlic and lemon mayonnaise, is a very popular ingredient or accompaniment in Spanish cooking. While allioli is a bit labor-intensive to make in the traditional way (lots of whisking required), a reasonable approximation can be achieved using regular mayonnaise flavored with garlic and lemon juice. Pinchos Marunos can be eaten with or without a sauce like the saffron-infused allioli presented here.

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the meat in a food processor and grind into a paste.
  2. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the spice paste and the meat cubes.
  3. For best taste, refrigerate the marinaded meat for 4 to 6 hours.
  4. If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for a half hour prior to using them.
  5. Skewer the meat. If you are adding other ingredients such as tomatoes or sweet peppers, alternate with the meat.
  6. Grill over a medium heat on your BBQ until the desired doneness is achieved.
  7. Serve as a tapas allowing guests to drizzle (or spoon, the stuff should be thick) the saffron allioli on top of the meat.

Saffron Allioli

Allioli, or garlic and lemon mayonnaise, is a very popular ingredient or accompaniment in Spanish cooking. While allioli is a bit labor-intensive to make in the traditional way (lots of whisking required), a reasonable approximation can be achieved using regular mayonnaise flavored with saffron, garlic and lemon juice.

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  1. Pulverize the saffron strands in a mortar and then add two tablespoons of boiling water. Let cool.
  2. Mix oils in a measuring cup that has a spout or pouring lip.
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix the minced garlic cloves, egg yokes and lemon juice until they form into a consistent a paste.
  4. Very very slowly (in a very small stream) add the oil to the mixture. It should emulsify while blending.
  5. When thickened, whisk in the saffron and water.
  6. Whisk in salt a little at a time, until the level of saltiness you enjoy is achieved.

Quick Way:
Crush the garlic in a garlic press and then combine all the ingredients above (except the eggs and oil) with one cup of your favorite mayonnaise.

Recipes adapted from Anya von Bremzen's The New Spanish Table.

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