Pinchos morunos are Spanish pork skewers with an aromatic spice marinade. They're easy to make, full of flavor and the perfect tapas dish to add to your next party or get-together.
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It's funny, but in recent years I have tended to drink beer more in the summer, I suspect partly as we keep not getting round to buying wine and it can be easier with just two of us. However I do miss some of the lovely days and evenings sharing tapas and wine with friends in years gone by.
Along with my challenge to myself to be more creative with grilling this summer, we also want to get better at having people over and I can't wait to combine the two serving up these delicious aromatic-spice-marinaded pork skewers. They have so much flavor and are great as part of a range of tapas dishes (see more ideas in what are tapas). It's perfect summer finger food!
I know I've mentioned before how many Spanish dishes use only a few ingredients. Well pinchos morunos kind of break the norm on that but don't worry, they are still really easy to make.
What are the origins of these skewers?
As you might be able to tell from the name they are Moorish in origin and use a range of spices to marinade the pork before threading onto skewers and grilling. Though that said, they are quite definitely Spanish as well.
Spanish cooking, particularly in the South, has incorporated many flavors and ingredients from the times of Moorish rule. Things like almonds, rice and artichokes that are firmly part of Spanish cooking now were introduced by the Moors. They also brought spices, as you find in these skewers.
The occupying Moors would probably have used lamb for these, which was more their meat of choice. However since pork is more common in Spain, and the favored meat, these days that's what these skewers are always made with.
Some say the spice mix is essentially ras al hanout - literally 'top of the shelf'. It's a spice blend common in Moroccan cooking such as for tagines. Just like that mix, there is no set list of ingredients in the marinade here, though cumin, coriander and paprika are pretty much always part of it. The end result is indeed reminiscent of a Moroccan tagine but without the long cook.
I nearly always drank wine with tapas when I lived in Spain and to me the flavors in these aromatically spiced pork skewers pair perfectly with a red wine. For a particularly hot day, you can make the wine into tinto de verano - 'summer red wine' (mixed with sparkling water or, for a slightly sweeter version, something like seven up or sprite).
How to serve these skewers
These are great to snack on, but I'd add a few favorite easy tapas dishes alongside. Some ideas include some simple summer tapas, Spanish tortilla, pan con tomate or patatas bravas. While a little less typically Spanish (though I first had a version in Spain), I also like it with an easy white bean salad.
Pinchos morunos have such fabulously aromatic flavors and work perfectly with so many other dishes. The meat is tender and flavorful, and while not what you might expect from Spanish cooking, they will soon be a tapas dish you'll soon have on repeat.
Try these other ideas for a tapas spread:
- Blistered Padron peppers
- Spanish cheese plate
- Salt cod stuffed piquillo peppers
- Gambas al ajillo (Spanish garlic shrimp)
- Plus get more Spanish recipes in the archives.
Pinchos morunos (Spanish pork skewers)
- 1 lb pork tenderloin (or other lean pork cut)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander (or a little more, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika (smoked or sweet Spanish, as you have)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds ground if not already
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic grated or crushed
- a few grinds black pepper
- Trim the pork of any excess flat and sinew. Cut into approximately 1.5in/3cm dice - if using pork tenderloin, cut in half lengthwise then cut into slices.
- Mix together all the remaining ingredients - the spices (cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika, turmeric, fennel seeds, allspice and cinnamon), salt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and pepper into a paste. Add the diced pork, ensure it is well covered with the marinade then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but overnight would also be good.
- When ready to cook, thread the pork onto skewers - try to put the pieces on so that they flatten out slightly and are even in thickness so they cook evenly.
- Cook on the grill for a few minutes each side until just charring and cooked through - exact cooking time will vary depending on thickness of pork and grill heat etc.
- Serve with other tapas of your choice (eg tortilla, pan tomate, salad) and enjoy!
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