A Pair of Grilled Skewer Dishes

Sweet Spicy Grilled Bacon Skewers with Scallion-Ginger Relish is a great appetizer or the bacon skewers can be combined with other skewers meats, like Soy-Basted Chicken with Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle as a meal. In either case they are perfect for an Independence Day cookout.

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Sweet Spicy Grilled Bacon Skewers with Scallion-Ginger Relish
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of FoodandWine.com, June 2016)

Makes (6) 12-inch skewers

6 scallions, thinly sliced
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
4 Tbsp light brown sugar, divided
Kosher salt
4 Tbsp
Vegetable oil (for brushing grill)
4 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp Sriracha
1 1/2 lbs. extra-thick-cut bacon
Lime wedges for serving

To make Scallion-Ginger Relish: In a medium bowl, whisk together scallions, serrano, lime juice, sesame oil, ginger and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Season with salt and refrigerate until serving.

To prepare the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together honey, remaining 3 tablespoons brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, and Sriracha. Can be made up to a week ahead of time. Cover and chill.

Prepare gas grill for indirect cooking with only one or two burners on. Thread the bacon onto skewers, folding back and forth in accordion style and grill over indirect heat, turning every minute or so until brown and crispy. Be patient and take care to minimize flare-ups. Once crispy, baste with glaze every 30 seconds or so, until lacquered and slightly sticky, about 3 minutes. Serve with Scallion-Ginger Relish and lime wedges.

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Soy-Basted Chicken with Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of FoodandWine.com, June 2016)

Makes (6) 12-inch skewers

4 Tbsp toasted white and black sesame seeds
2 Tbsp thinly sliced chives
1 Tbsp cracked red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp lemon zest
Kosher salt
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup mirin
2/3 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp Sriracha
2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken strips
Vegetable oil (for the grill)

To make Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle: Mix sesame seeds, chives, red pepper, and lemon zest in a small bowl to combine; season with salt.

Combine the brown sugar, mirin, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and Sriracha in a large bowl. Marinate the chicken strips, refrigerated, for at least 2 hours or overnight. When skewering the chicken, remove most of the marinade to a sauce pan and cook over medium-high heat until it boils and then simmer until it is reduced by half and thickened. Remove glaze from heat and reserve for basting.

Prepare gas grill for indirect heat with only one or two burners on. Oil grates. Grill over direct heat until browned and beginning to char. Move to indirect heat and continue to grill glazing turning every 30 seconds until cooked through and coated with glaze, about 5 minutes. Serve topped with Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle.

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A Different Type of July 4th Barbecue

Ample Bites knows that the favorite Independence Day barbecue fare for most Americans falls along the lines of hot dogs, hamburgers and, maybe, a bratwurst or polish sausage. Some barbecue enthusiasts use the holiday to smoke a beef brisket, ribs or, perhaps, grill a “beer can” chicken. Ethnic picnics in our great melting pot of a nation can include carne asada, a whole lamb or small pig on a spit over a charcoal fire.

Ample Bites has cooked the vast majority of the favorites. This year I have chosen to do a meal with more of an Asian flair. The heat of the grill infuses the rich flavors of a marinade made from sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, mirin, chili paste and fresh ginger. With a few grilled vegetables and some pickled cucumbers as accompaniments and a nice bed of brown rice, these grilled Thai beef skewers make a delicious and filling meal.

Happy Independence Day to All!

Thai Beef Skewers with Pickled Cucumbers
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Ted Allen & The Food Network Magazine, July/August 2012)

Serves 4 – 6

For the Pickled Cucumbers

¼ cup sugar
½ tsp Kosher salt
¼ cup rice vinegar
½ Asian cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small hot red or green chile, thinly sliced
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves

For the Beef Skewers

1 cup soy sauce
8 tsp rice vinegar
4 tsp toasted sesame oil
4 tsp fish sauce
4 tsp mirin
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
6 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
4 tsp red pepper flakes or Thai chili paste
Juice of 1 lime
2 lb sirloin, rib-eye or NY Strip steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 scallions (white and light green parts), cut into 1-inch lengths, plus additional, sliced for garnish

Pickle the cucumbers: In a small saucepan, heat the sugar, salt, vinegar and ¼ cup water over medium-high heat until the sugar and salt dissolve; remove from the heat. Put the cucumber, chile and red onion in a medium bowl and pour the hot brine over them. Let cool, then add the cilantro. Chill

Make the beef skewers: In a medium bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes. Pour about half of the mixture in a serving bowl, add the lime juice and reserve as a dipping sauce. Put the beef cubes in a zip-top plastic bag and pour in the remaining marinade. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the meat. Put in a bowl and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat a grill to high. Drain the meat, discarding the marinade. Thread the cubes on to skewers (3 to 5 per skewer), separating each cube with a piece of scallion. Grill directly over the coals, turning once, until nicely charred, about 3 minutes per side.

On a serving dish, sprinkle skewers with sliced scallions. Serve warm or cold with the reserved marinade for dipping and the pickled cucumber and chiles on the side.

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