Summer is no longer approaching. It is upon us. Its hands dig into our throats as it stutters a warning about drinking water to prevent dehydration. That's why mankind holds cook-outs. To scoff at Summer's heat and itching.
However: when one goes on a diet (because of - say - an approaching high school reunion), one is not always able to eat the ubiquitous hot dogs, steaks, and hamburgers. Vegetarians, too, are left indoors, sadly eating potato salad out of a tupperware container using an index finger as a spoon.
Salvation comes in the form of kebabs.
Kebabs! We haven't had them since we were kids, and we figured it was time to see what we were missing, especially since summer is here. That means cook-out time, right? It doesn't matter if you don't own a grill. Or if you're afraid of going outdoors. We sort of are.
Kebabs (Serves two, but easily can be doubled... or trebled... or whatever.)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10-20 minutes
Total cook time: 40-50 minutes
3/4 lb meat or tofu cut into 1.5" cubes (chicken - white or dark meat, flank steak, sirloin steak, and tofu are all acceptable. Or none, if you prefer.)
Marinade (see suggestions below.)
1 1/2 cups vegetables and fruits, cut into 1" cubes (suggestions: onions, bell peppers - green or red, mushrooms, squash, zucchini, pineapple, apple, peaches... nearly anything, except for root vegetables like potatoes and carrots)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Bamboo skewers (available near the toothpicks and matches at your local store)
Step one: assemble your marinade. You'll need about a half cup. This can be anything from teriyaki sauce to flavored oil. I blended six cloves of garlic, a quarter cup of oregano from the farmer's market, and a quarter cup of olive oil.
Step two: Soak your meat, chicken, or tofu for three hours before you're ready to cook. The best way to do it? Put it in a plastic bag with the marinade and squish it around. Put it in the fridge and forget about it. This is the most disgusting part of kebabs. Rebecca would not take a picture - and for good reason. It's highly unappetizing.
Step three: Now, the fun begins. When you're ready to cook, heat your grill to medium-high - or, if you don't have a grill, heat a cast-iron pan to medium-high. That's what we did. Now, slice your vegetables into inch-wide pieces.
We opted for green bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. We also got some pineapple. Sadly, we had to use canned, and it doesn't look - or taste - nearly as good as fresh. When you can, always go with fresh fruits and vegetables. Mix your fruits and vegetables with the tablespoon of vegetable oil - and, if you like, a generous splash of teriyaki or soy sauce. Let this sit for ten minutes.
Step four: Time to skewer. Take out your meat. Remember what I said in our last post: chicken is a biological terror weapon. Don't let it touch anything in the kitchen. Anything you touch with chicken-y hands either needs to be cooked thoroughly or sterilized and destroyed. Beef, not so much. Tofu is perfectly safe.
Hold two skewers a half-inch apart. This will help stabilize your kebabs. Or make a huge mess, depending.
The fun thing about kebabs? They're totally customizable. Add whatever you want in whatever order you want. Leave an inch or two of empty skewer on each side so that you can easily turn these guys.
Our skillet will only hold two at a time, so it's time to toss these on.
Cook on each side 2-3 minutes, until well done. And if you're using chicken, I mean, like, REALLY well done. You don't want any pink at all in there. We had to leave them on an extra five minutes.
Serve so that you can snack on them while the others cook!
Robert's take: I never understood kebabs. I still don't. They're fun and they look pretty, but it was hard to make sure the chicken was done in the middle. The outsides got pretty charred, but the insides? They wouldn't stop being pink. Next time I make these, I'm omitting the skewers and stir-frying everything together. I think that'd be a lot more tasty. The only problem is that without the skewers, you won't be able to put them on a grill without making a big mess. I guess that's why they're barbeque food.
Rebecca's take: The pineapples were definitely the best part. The chicken scared me - how could I be sure the inside was really cooked? I'll tell you: I just nibbled around the edges. I have to agree with Robert. These were kind of neat, but not worth repeating unless we make some drastic changes. By drastic I mean... Can I just use these skewers to dip strawberries in chocolate? Please? Honest opinion: these would probably be best without any meat.