We Love Shish Kebab!!
I love summer in Oregon. All two days of it…..just kidding. Although the traditional summer can be somewhat elusive here, darting in and out of the weeks like the sun plays tag with the clouds, when it visits for more than a few days it is absolutely perfect! Mild days with occasional bursts of 90°F plus welcome rain are frequent visitors, and provide ample opportunity to use our gas BBQ. Although aging a bit, it works beautifully, and is a workhorse for my forays into alternate cooking. Over the years I thought I had cooked about everything I could on a BBQ grill, then in the last few I realized I had not, and now, I discover I can cook most of those foods differently and better! On a rack!!!
I have purchased many different BBQ fun things, accessories, and books, but have found a simplified way to cook on a BBQ. I use my cooling/cooking rack!!! It has a more open cooking surface than the BBQ accessory plates, which in turn allows more delicious and efficient cooking, and you don’t have to deal with the large grates of the actual BBQ. Instead, small things never get lost, they can be turned more easily, they have maximum exposure to the fire, and they just taste better with no loss!
I can cook vegetables without sticking or falling through the rack, have maximum exposure to the fire, and clean up better and quicker than using the normal accessory pans/trays/racks you can buy for the BBQ. I know - I have them all….well, almost all of them. Meatball pans, vegetable baskets, wire fry pans, double skewers, cooking trays, I have tried almost everything out there.
Now, I can do just about everything better with just the simple little rack. Stir fry is still better in a wire basket, but for the majority of recipes?……awesome!!
One of our favorite things to BBQ in the summer is Shish Kebob. Large chunks of top sirloin marinated in a delicious sweet and sour mixture then skewered with pineapple, onion, and green pepper chunks were tossed on a BBQ grill and seared to perfection. It worked great! Except for difficulty in turning the skewered meat over evenly, sticking to the grill, and
veggies/pineapple falling through the grill. Then in exploring new ways to use a cooling rack, I decided to try grilling my shish kebobs on them.
I was amazed at how much easier/better it was to put the rack on the BBQ and cook the meat on it. They turned better, cooked better, and clean-up was easier than scraping the grill, or soaking and scrubbing those heavy duty BBQ pans. There was NO scraping, just a quick soak and the dishwasher, then an unobtrusive storage in my cabinet, instead of fitting on the shelf I used for the heavier/bulkier BBQ accessory pans. Win/win!!!!!
So here’s my recipe for the yummiest shish kebob every!!! Thanks to the Weber marinade recipe, they come out extremely moist, tender and delicious.
First, make the marinade. Boil, then let cool.
Shish kebob marinade
Place all ingredients in a saucepan, bring to boil and cool. Tamari can be a bit stronger than regular soy sauce, so you can dilute the marinade a little with an extra 1/2 cup water or less.
Ingredients for the kebab
Meanwhile, assemble the party participants, onion, green pepper, pineapple, meat.
Cut to proper size. Onions - quarter, separate layers, and slice in half…..usually…. Chunks that go on the shish kebob should be a couple inches square, one layer of onion. Two layers works as well, as does the thicker center pieces of onion.
Green Peppers next. Cut into fourths lengthwise, or sixths if a large pepper, and be sure to remove ribs and seeds. Then, cut each piece horizontally into thirds or halves, depending upon size of pepper….
I use the pineapple chunks from the can, having used the juice in the marinade, so they are already cut. These little puppies are the most problematic on the grill, as they don’t always hold together when they get soft during the cooking.
Then, I cut the meat. Although the original recipe called for tenderloin cut into 1 inch cubes, I order top sirloin (at half the cost), cut to 1 1/2 inch thick steaks. I trim excess fat off, then try, not always successfully, to cut 1 1/2 Inch cubes. I like my beef medium rare, and 1 inch just wasn’t satisfactory. Each piece is roughly 2 ounces….give or take, and gives a more satisfying presentation and experience. Also easier to cook. Although 1 1/2 inches is a premium size, you won’t be able to get everything cut to that. So, as I prepare and cut, I make piles of cubes. Proper size, smaller, and end pieces, or scraps. The last time I did shish kebobs, I even weighed them, with pile of 2 ounces, 1 ounce, and small chunks. I scrape meat off the fat that was cut off, little pieces and chunks left over, and use the smallest chunks and scraps for Asian stir fry, as they don’t do well on skewers.
This allows me to put the smaller chunks on one stick and cook to a consistent level, then easily place on a plate so that people can have easy access to steak that is a bit more done.
Now we MARINATE!!! Place steak chunks in ziplock bags with marinade. Each size in a different bag, the marinade split between them. The meat needs to be coated/covered, but not necessarily swimming, in marinade. Place in refrigerator, and marinate for at least four and up to 8 hours, turning the bags several times to allow more even marinating. I find that prepping the meat and vegetables in the morning is perfect, allowing for 8-10 hours of marinating before cooking for dinner. Overnight is okay, but I find it is a bit too strong of a flavor.
The traditional way, best individual way, is to alternate meat, onion, pepper, and pineapple on one skewer. While this is portion controlled, pretty, and theoretically more well seasoned, I prefer to put all the meat of one size on a skewer, and all the veggies on other skewers, and the pineapple on skewers by themselves. They cook better that way, more evenly, more tasty.
Then, when I serve, I put meat chunks of one size into a bowl with the cooked veggies and pineapple, mix, and mound onto a serving plate. I do the same with the smaller chunks and more veggies and pineapple. I am accustomed to cooking for a large family, and feel this works best to accommodate everyones likes/dislikes for vegetables, level of doneness on the meat, and quantity. It does mean that there is usually more eaten as there is no portion control, but since it is family and usually a special event, (the meat having been bought on sale and frozen is needed) I find it works best for us. This recipe is easily scaled up or down.
Individual skewers are pretty awesome, though I love more vegetables with my meat. I always make more veggies than I need for individual skewers as they are incredible and very attractive on a serving platter!!
So, you have your veggies, pineapple, and meat all prepped, the marinade cooked and cooled, now you just need to skewer, and cook, before you devour! Place skewers on the rack, and transport to the BBQ (I put them on a baking sheet so they don’t drip on the floor). Place rack on the preheated BBQ (watch that the temperature doesn’t go over 550°F and cook to desired doneness. The skewers will turn more easily on the rack, won’t stick, and pieces, if they fall off, are contained on the rack. It really is a better way to cook them!
When I prepare this for our family, there is always extra, which disappear when we sit around the table chatting afterwards. Piece by piece, they are snagged and eaten, so there is rarely ever anything left to put in the fridge.
Enjoy!! And as always,Live-Nimble!!!!
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- Nancy Oar