Nothing could be faster than throwing hunks of food onto a stick and laying them on a grill over hot coals or a gas flame. Shish kabobs are fairly fast in prep time, cook time is much less, and clean-up takes hardly any time. You can kabob just about anything too…well naturally except ice cream or jello but any fruit, or meat or, sturdy vegetable. Shrimp and dense fish like grouper and sea bass could also work .
I purchased a whole pork loin a month ago and had it in the freezer. I let it thaw over night. The next day we planned to go to a family picnic so we brought about 20 kabobs ready to grill. Each one included a serving of meat and four vegetables. Green and red peppers, onion, baby ‘bella mushrooms, and grape tomatoes were my “go-to guys”. I cut the pork loin into cubes measuring 1 and 1/2 inches and marinated them in a teriyaki sauce I made.
Most marinates contain something savory, something acidic and an oil. You could add something sweet as an option. I made mine with 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup pineapple juice and a dash or so of olive oil. Ginger and garlic powders were also added for a little kick. The meat soaked in this for about an hour then assembly began.
Prepping was simple but took about 30 minutes once the meat marinated a while. Cutting Vidalia onions and peppers into little 1 and 1/2 inch pieces took 10 minutes but loading twenty skewers took about 20 minutes. For uniformity I started with a plank of onion, then green pepper with the cupped-side-up to cradle a cube of meat, a plank of onion placed cupped-side-down to cap the meat, and last a tomato. I repeated this pattern three times on each skewer which, in my opinion, made a complete and perfect paleo meal on a stick.
Cooking all 20 them on the grill was all of a 10 minute process. By the time the twentieth one was laid on the grill it was time to go back and turn the first one. Giving the meat a press test for donenness, I was looking for a firm feel. If I was cooking steak kabobs, I would want to feel a little bit of give…not too squishy though unless you like it very rare. If I was cooking chicken kabobs I would definitely want it to feel very firm when pressed.
After coming off the grill a rest period is always a good idea to let the juices settle in the meat. They could be eaten right off the stick but removing the stick and cutting things in smaller bites is a less primitive way (it’s how a diva does it).
You can’t resist an extra sniff at the air when a neighbor is cooking up something on the grill. Today, I was the one stinking up the place with my grilled marinated zucchini, mushrooms, and chicken breasts. After last weekend’s hailstorm, I welcome the sunshine and warm weather back to our area so I could fire up the grill. Grilling in the backyard is my favorite Spring and Summer activity…oh heck, Fall and some of Winter too. Today, there were fringe trees and roses blooming, making the fragrant air a sheer joy to breathe… Added to it, that smell that is Barbecue. Ahhhh! I thought to myself, “This is what Heaven must smell like!”
To prepare a marinate, I squeezed a good couple of tablespoons of honey dijon salad dressing into a gallon sized zip lock storage bag along with, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce 1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvingnon, a few dashes of steak seasoning, a dash of cayenne pepper, and a teaspoon of dried parsley leaves. I used a ridged slicer to slice the zucchini in 1/4″ slices, then let all the vegetables soak for about ten minutes. I then poured some of the marinate over three chicken breasts and let everything soak for about 20 more minutes. The chicken soaked on a separate plate to not contaminate other food.
I prepared the grill by cleaning off the rungs of the grill and brushing them with a little olive oil. I place the chicken on the hottest part of the grill and the zukes and mushrooms on the lesser flames. Within about fifteen minutes the vegetables were done having been turned once in that time, but the chicken needed more time and a little higher flame to get up to temperature but not burn. Fifteen and ten minutes on each side got the job done. In the kitchen I cut up some whole wheat bread into little points and we made little sandwiches with the vegetables and chicken…some, just the vegetables. There was no need for condiments…the marinate made for wonderful flavor and the perfect al dente texture of the vegetables made each slice of chicken burst with juiciness and incredible smoky and savory flavor. This will become a weekly event during the warmer weather I’m sure. I don’t think I could ever get tired of outdoor grilled food. Apparently, others are in agreement. There wasn’t a scrap left of this delicious food.
I can’t always afford to eat a juicy steak, whether because of the fat and calories, or because of the price. The London Broil steak works because it is quite lean and ridiculously affordable. When it’s cooked right, the taste and texture are as flavorful and juicy as the fancier cuts. I like to slice it thinly and on the diagonal to give everyone a fair amount of nice wide slices, or they could make a lovely sandwich from the leftovers (if there are any).
To begin I make a marinate:
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire
- 2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
- 1 tsp steak seasoning/Greek seasoning
- a pinch each of salt and freshly ground pepper
I put all that into a gallon size zip-lock bag and shake it all up. The mustard helps it emulsify. I place the whole steak in and press out all the air. I even suck out the remaining air and quickly zip the last inch of zipper shut before air gets back in…it’s a trick and I’m glad I don’t have a photo of me doing this…all I’ll say is, just stop before you suck up any marinate.
I let that stand for at least twenty minutes while I fire up the broiler. I don’t like to use my best baking pans for a job like this. I use my oldest crummiest rack and cookie sheet to catch the drippings. Once the broiler is going, I place the steak under the flame on the upper oven rack so that the meat is about 4 to 5 inches from the flame. Broil for 5 minutes on one side then 5 on the other, leaving the oven door cracked a bit as not to build up too much heat. When the time is up, I shut off the flame, close the door, and let it sit for another 10 minutes in the warm oven.
During this time, I make my side dish. I forego the starchy sides and opt for a skillet simmered dish of onions and cabbage. With just a teaspoon of olive oil, I saute about a half an onion then chop up half a head of cabbage into two-inch wedges then cut the wedges into halves or thirds depending on the size of cabbage. I just love the designs our Creator has given us in nature. He seems to like things that branch out or blossom. So when the cabbage is wilted and getting a golden brown I use the tongs to turn it over and let the top leaves get the heat treatment. I lower the heat to medium and put on a lid for a few more minutes.
Now It’s time to see about that steak! I take it out, let it rest another 5 minutes on the cutting board and begin slicing thin juicy slices for my people who will at this time be hovering in the kitchen ready to pounce on the first crunchy yummy end piece. Usually it’s Jeff, but Julia beat him to it this time.
I have to resist the bread but for everyone else I simply slice off a bit and slide it around in the drippings in that beat up old cookie sheet…better than butter I’m sure…I’ll just watch….I’m OK, I’d rather the bread was sopping with renderings than me. Now we plate up and tuck in!
I’ve made a lot of chicken that was too dry before but now I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to ensure that it comes out tender. To start, a good pounding is in order. Today my meat pounder flew off the handle so I used a chunky soup can. It had enough heft to do a decent job. A diva has to know how to improvise.
Now we add the chicken. In a gallon size food storage bag I placed the chicken breasts and poured in the marinate. The marinate seemed to lack character so I added a secret ingredient I’ll share with you. Here it is. Oyster sauce. I put the chicken in the refrigerator for about an hour.
I turned them after about five minutes on each side. I covered them and let some juices collect in the bottom of the pan and thin the bubbling drippings before they begin to burn. The lemon juice in the marinate added sugar and I was careful not to let the heat get too high. I just kept making adjustments in the last few minutes between letting steam collect, then letting the sauce reduce again with the lid off just keeping ahead of scorching the drippings. It developed a nice flavor and color. Now to check the temperature. I look for a temp between 160 and 170. That was a close one! I was just barely inside the safe zone. Out they came to cool and rest a while. The resting period after meat is done cooking is ABSOLUTELY necessary to having tender meat. Juices are flying around inside that browned and yummy thing and you want to wait until they settle down and distribute themselves throughout the meat. The cooked surface doesn’t give much and squeezes down infusing the meat fibers with juice. If you cut into meat right off the fire or out of the oven, the flying juices would just run out onto the plate and dry out the meat awfully. Fifteen minutes rest is a good amount of time. It will still be warm and very tender.
Now to make the sauce. I used the marinate bowl and added about ¼ cup of corn starch and 1 and ¼ cup of water. More salt was needed so I added about a teaspoon. Cranking up the heat I let that come to a bubble.
I gave the sauce a taste and it needed something. It needed brightness so in went a tablespoon of lemon juice. It gave it the right amount of zing. I stirred that in and poured it over the chicken.
So there I was with this rested juicy chicken smothered in such a tasty sauce….I couldn’t help myself I had to pounce! The one piece of chicken never made it to the table. I microwaved some potatoes and steamed some broccoli to go with dinner for the rest of the crew. Since I already had my chicken I had to have some of that sauce on my broccoli…it was great!