At least, meat and vegetables on a stick. This more a collection of thoughts than an actual recipe, although I will be sharing what works for me. In the end, I think there’s a lot to be said for winging it, making do, adjusting things to your preference, so I’ll be giving guidelines. I’ll also be sharing a bonus cucumber salad recipe!
First off, let’s talk about the marinade. I like to get everything done the day before, or the morning of. I put the vegetables and meat together. I like the way the vegetables loose liquid and add to the general mishmash of favors. I put everything in a lasagna pan (goddamnit I miss cheese), so that’s a what, 9″x11″? When I’m done with the marinade, I might have a little under a inch of liquid, but with everything in it, after an hour or so in the fridge, the pan will be close to full.
Now, what do we put in the marinade? I like to think of it as consisting of several components:
1) Salty (soy sauce, actual salt, and a lot of things like Worcestershire and mustard are pretty salty, so keep that in mind when choosing/adding your salty ingredient)
2) Sweet (I like to use honey or brown sugar)
3) Sour (vinegar, lemon, lime)
4) Pungent (I’m going to put mustard, garlic, Chinese five spice, in this category)
5) Filler (I use Old Crow and vegetable oil)
I also tend to add some spice too, either some Sriracha or fresh peppers. You can blend things together, adding fresh spices too, as long as you keep in mind that they all go together. For instance, I’ll add fresh thyme to almost everything except this, and I wouldn’t add fish sauce to something that had lemon, mustard, honey, etc.
This has more of an Asian vibe to it. All amounts are approximate. Also, there are a few unique flavors in here (the Worcestershire has tamarind in it, and there’s nothing quite like fish sauce).
Zest and juice of one lime
O.5 cups soy sauce (I’d use something cheap)
0.25 cups Worcestershire Sauce
0.25 cups honey (I wouldn’t measure it, too sticky)
1 tablespoon or so of rice vinegar
A couple (four isn’t a couple, is it?) of cloves of garlic (smashed)
A couple (this time I really mean two) of hot peppers with seeds (I like to get different kinds)
1 tablespoon or so of Chinese five spice (love the stuff from Penzeys)
0.75 cups Old Crow (Don’t get curious and drink it, it’s cheap bourbon. My father tried it and he was appalled. Of course I stood there repeating that I kept it for cooking but he drank it anyway.)
0.5 cups vegetable oil
I normally mix it with my fingers at this point because the honey is annoying and just hangs out wherever you dumped it. Then I add the final marinade ingredient:
1 tablespoon or so of fish sauce (not so into putting my fingers in it at this point)
If you wanted to, you could throw in some cilantro, probably mint too.
Now, for the vegetables. I like to get, a bit over a pound of crimini mushrooms (a little more flavor than the button for about the same price), 2 peppers (I prefer sweet to green), and 2 onions, sweet, reserving half for the cucumber salad.
I cut everything into pretty big chunks and often leave a few sections of onion together. The mushrooms I pop the stem off and wash.
After you’ve tried very hard not to make a mess mixing all the vegetables in the marinade, its time to add the meat. I generally go for about 2 lbs. skinless chicken breast. It would probably be good with pork. I don’t know about beef though–it just seems like it would be really easy to overcook.
I try and get the meat mixed all around with everything before fussing with it and getting most of the meat in the marinade and the mushrooms settled more toward the top (they really soak up the marinade). I find the best way to do this without making a complete mess is to use your fingers. Cover it and pop it in the fridge for a day or so (I wouldn’t do longer than overnight).
I’ll go mess with it when I think of it, coating the mushrooms, stirring stuff around.
Next day comes the fun of loading everything on skewers, woo! I generally find I have some vegetables left over. I try and use up all the mushrooms (my husband’s favorite) and meat. My advice is not to squash the mushrooms too much or they’ll fall off.
I tend to cook these on a lower temperature grill (400 is about as low as I can get my grill). I idly baste, stopping around the third or fourth time I turn them, because SALMONELLA! Sometimes I’ll try and grease the grill before hand with varying levels of success. The biggest problem I have with them is everything sticking. I’m all ears if you have any ideas.
I tend to cook them until everything is looking nice and brown, with the edges of things often blackening. Just keep it on low and make sure it doesn’t catch fire (We really need a new grill. I’ve completely given up trying to make sausage.) and you should be good. I tend to check on it in intervals of 3 to 4 minutes, as I do most things. If one kabob is looking done and the others aren’t (it happens) I’ll pull that one off and snuggle it up in tinfoil to keep it warm.
Now, for the bonus salad (I should note raw onions can be rough on those with sensitive GIs). Make day you’ll be eating it.
First, put together the dressing:
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
0.5 tablespoons soy sauce (well worth using the good stuff)
Mix, and keep mixing it now and then to incorporate the sugar.
For the salad, wash 1 seedless cucumber (I’m serious, use the seedless), and 1 chili (I like something long and just a little spicy, like a serrano). Get out your half of sweet onion (you’ll be using about a third of one).
Make sure to use a sharp knife, and slice everything as thinly as possible. I layer everything in a 8″x8″ pan. First, cucumber, then onion, cucumber, onion, cucumber, hot pepper (I think the thinner you slice it, the hotter it’ll be, although it also depends on the pepper), cucumber, etc. until you’ve got most of your onion and all of you cucumber in there. It looks pretty! Give the dressing a good swirl and pour it over the salad. Let it hang out for a couple of hours at least, and use a spoon to add a little extra dressing on top.
Warning: it can be super spicy, and the longer you keep it, the spicier it gets. The first time I made it I had a hot pepper, thinly sliced. My husband tried to eat it, wept, and admitted defeat/spat it off the deck.