Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Deconstructed Shish Kebabs

Hot town, summer in the city. Or more accurately, summer in the outskirts of a small industrialized town.

One of the best things about summer cooking is the opportunity to grill everything.  I, unfortunately, don't have a grill.  At some point in my life, I'd like to become a real grill master. For now, though, I try to find creative ways around making things sans grill.  This usually isn't too difficult if you are comfortable with your broiler.

This whole "deconstructed shish kebab" fiasco started when I picked up some sirloin tips for a great price at Wegmans.  It being summer, though, I didn't want to make a stew, so I thought-- aha! Shish kebabs! My plan was all set and I was ready to start cooking when I realized I forgot to get one very important thing at the store...skewers. I had reached the point of no return with my preparations, so I did what any good cook (but not great because a great cook would have remembered skewers and probably been doing this on a grill to start) would do and threw everything on a sheet tray under the broiler.

Was the method fancy? No. Did it require any cooking skills whatsoever? Not really. But was the end result delicious? You can bet your sweet patootie it was.

And to make up for such a pathetically simplistic dish, I also baked some sweet potato fries for you. In truth, I was already making the fries before the shish kebab plan went awry, but I feel better sharing this with you when I have two recipes to offer.

For my "desconstructed shish kebabs," i.e. broiled things on a plate, I used the sirloin tips, green pepper, onion, and cherry tomatoes. But you can use whatever floats your boat! Mushroom caps, squash, even broccoli florets.  Of course, if you are being all fancy and actually skewering your food, you just have to make sure the pieces of food won't fall off the skewer once they start to cook.

The sweet potato fries I made are actually a favorite go-to side dish for me.  They are another super cinchy thing to make that is easily adjusted to suit whatever kind of flavor profile you have going on with the rest of your meal. Since the kebabs made for a pretty open canvas, I seasoned my fries with curry powder to jazz things up a bit.

May my failings be a reminder to you that the most important thing is that your food tastes good!

Deconstructed Shish Kebabs
1 lb beef tips, or steak cut into cubes
1 green pepper
1 onion
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
salt and pepper

For the fries:
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into fry shapes
1 T curry powder
1/2 t cinnamon
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Peel your sweet potatoes and then cut them into fry-shaped wedges.  Toss in a bowl with approx. 3 tablespoons of EVOO, or enough to coat.  Add the curry powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and toss. Dump the fries out on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until they are browning on the outside and done to your liking on the inside.

While your fries bake, prep your kebab ingredients. If you are making proper kebabs and are using wooden skewers, soak the skewers in a bowl of water and set aside.  Prep the veggies by cutting things into equal sized pieces, about an inch. If you have one big piece of meat, do the same. Assemble your kebabs by alternating ingredients on the skewers. Season with salt and pepper and arrange on a baking tray.

If you are doing it my way, prep you veggies like before.  Spread the veggies out on one end of a baking sheet and the beef tips at the other end. Season everything with salt and pepper.

Once the fries are done, take them out, turn off the oven, and turn the broiler on to high with a rack on the second level from the top.  Whether you are using skewers or the Milo method, put your tray in the oven and let it be for three minutes.  You can leave the oven door cracked if it would make you feel better to have an eye on what's going on.  Things can burn in no time under a broiler.  I've lost more good bread to the broiler than any other kitchen appliance.

After three minutes, take the tray out and rotate your skewers or give things a good toss.  Keep doing this every two to three minutes so things cook evenly on all sides.  You want your meat to brown on the outside and the veggies to get a slight char on them.  If things start to burn, shorten your intervals and turn the broiler down to medium.

When the meat is done to your liking (mine was a perfect medium), serve up your kebabs with some sweet potato curry fries and a nice cold cider.

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