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Fun with skewers

June 16, 2012

Asian Chicken skewers

Ready or not, the grilling season is upon us. The warm days of summer filled with farmers markets, long lighted evening walks and barbeques is such a short and savored season here in the temperate rain forest. I simply love grilling food. It is so easy, flavor filled and no heat or fuss in the kitchen.

The hubby and I usually grill meat, plain and simple, but recently I’ve been into skewers. They are more work but wow! the possibilities are endless and the flavors amazing. I had the idea to make skewers for my birthday party a few weeks back and I have been a skewering fool ever since. They make a boring meal come alive and a party festive. Skewers can also make the meat stretch further for budget conscious meals.

In truth, they are super simple to make, take out a skewer, poke some meat, veggies and fruit on it and go grill it. Done and done. Yet with all the skewering we have been doing we have found a few secrets to share with you to make them super terrific.

First off, I suggest using purchased bamboo skewers. The metal ones are expensive and you never have enough of them. I start soaking the bamboo skewers the night before we want to use them, that way they are good and fire proofed. (Don’t sweat it if you forget to soak them, you only need about 1 hour of soaking to make them safe.) Second, fattier meats seem to work better and stay tender no matter if you over cook them or not. Third, a little marinade goes a long way.

Now I am the queen of marinades. Love to make them and love how they taste. If the meat you are using is a fine meat, like elk, I have found that the simpler the marinade the better. It highlights the flavor of the meat. When we are using a meat that is rather flavorless on its own, like chicken, then we mix up a more robust marinade. Make sure and do not over marinade your meats or they get soft and mushy. Here are our two favorite recipes….. at the moment.

Garlic Venison or beef steak skewers
These skewers are fantastic with just the simple marinade.

2 pounds of elk or beef steak cut into 2 inch cubes
Various veggies like red onion, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and broccoli
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves minced
Or 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary
2-6 cloves of garlic pressed
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper
10 to 12 inch bamboo skewers

1-3 hours before BBQ time, start soaking your bamboo skewers in hot water then mix together in a small bowl the garlic, rosemary, olive oil and sea salt. Drop your meat into a large zip lock bag and then pour the marinade over the meat in the bag. Squish it around till everything is nice and covered and put it in the fridge so everyone can get to know each other. Prep your veggies by cutting them into bite sized pieces, making sure they are big enough to get skewered and not fall apart. Set in the fridge with the meat.

When it is time to grill, take out the meat and veggies and poke them onto the skewers in whatever pattern amuses you. This is a messy process so you might need a drop cloth. Discard the remaining marinade in the compost or where ever. Heat up the grill on high and grill the skewers for 5-10 minutes while turning them to each side. Try not to drool on them. When they are done, if you can handle it, let them set for 5-10 minutes before you eat them so the juices soak back into the meat. Enjoy!

Asian Chicken Skewers

2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
Various veggies like red onion, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and broccoli
Cut up fresh pineapple
1/3 cup soy sacue
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of lime juice
2 tablespoons of something sweet like coconut nectar, maple syrup, or honey
2-5 garlic cloves pressed
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, (do not peel, the peels have a lot of flavor)
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
10 to 12 inch bamboo skewers

1-3 hours before BBQ time, start soaking your bamboo skewers in hot water then mix together in a small bowl the soy sauce through the pepper. Drop your meat into a large zip lock bag and then pour the marinade over the meat in the bag. Squish it around till everything is nice and covered and put it in the fridge so everyone can get to know each other. Prep your veggies by cutting them into bite sized pieces, making sure they are big enough to get skewered and not fall apart. Set in the fridge with the meat.

When it is time to grill, take out the meat and veggies and poke them onto the skewers in whatever pattern amuses you. This is a messy process so you might need a drop cloth. Discard the remaining marinade in the compost or where ever. Heat up the grill on high and grill the skewers for 5-10 minutes while turning them to each side. Try not to drool on them. When they are done, if you can handle it, let them set for 5-10 minutes before you eat them so the juices soak back into the meat. Enjoy!

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