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Southwestern Kebabs

July 8, 2010
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One of my favorite things about summer is all the grilling that goes on.  Granted, I’ve been known to grill brats in Wisconsin in January, but summer is really the quintessential grilling season.  Until now, as in the past couple days, it had never occurred to me that it could be too hot in the summer to grill.  When I made these kebabs, this was the reality with which I was faced.  It was around 3 pm on Monday and in between my trips to the grill to check the food, I ran back inside to cool off.  It was awful.  Maybe we’ll have reconsider what defines the “grilling season.”  Because cooking over an open flame in 100 degree heat with sweat running into your eyes is not fun.

That said, I am not going near the grill again, much less outside if I can help it, until things cool down.  Who ever thought I’d be hoping for a cool day in the low 90’s? 

A couple weeks ago (when it was still nice out), we went to a barbeque and our host said he’d been marinading the meat for 2 days, and it was some of the best grilled meat I’d had in a while.  Most recipes say to marinate meat for up to 24 hours, but why not push that to 48 hours?  It’s not like you’ll be doing the meat any harm since it is already dead and everything.  For these kebabs, I decided to start marinading the meat 2 days in advance, but this left me with the question of what to do about the veggies, which may not be able to maintain their structural integrity after a 48 hour marinate (I had visions of mushy decomposing mushrooms).  So I made the marinade and mixed it with the chopped up meat and put it in the fridge 2 days early.  Then the morning that I was going to grill everything, I made another batch of the marinade and mixed that with the veggies.  It worked out great.

Then there’s the question of how to cook both the meat and the veggies perfectly.  Mushrooms and tomatoes don’t take long at all, whereas peppers and onions take a bit more time.  To solve this quandary, I made skewers of only one veggie or protein.  My problem was solved and all the veggies and meats were cooked just right!  I suppose if I’m going to expose myself to blistering heat, the food had better be good.  This is a marinade I will definitely be returning to in the future because it had just the right amount of spice and flavor.  And maybe next time Nate will be home (and not in Hawaii.  Not like I’m jealous or anything…) and then he can do the grilling!

Southwestern Kebabs

(Adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

These are technically Southwestern Beef Kebabs, but I only had 3/4 lb of steak so I added in a huge chicken breast.  The veggies I used were Vidalia onions, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and red pepper. 

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic , minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 chipotle chile en adobo , minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds blade steaks (about 4 to 5 steaks), trimmed of fat

For the Marinade: Combine oil, garlic, cumin, chili powder, chipotle chile en adobo, cilantro, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Add steak cubes and toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate until fully seasoned, at least one hour or up to 48 hours.

For the  Vegetables: Make another batch of marinade and pour over veggies up to six hours before you plan on grilling. 

Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 20 minutes.  While the coals are getting ready or the gas grill is heating, thread all the beef onto several skewers.  Repeat with the tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and whatever other veggies you’ve used, so that each skewer has only one ingredient (i.e. only mushrooms or only onions).  Grill kebabs directly over coals, uncovered, until meat is well browned, grill marked, and cooked to medium-rare, about 7 minutes (or about 8 minutes for medium), or until the veggies are browned, turning each kabob every 1 3/4 minutes to brown all sides. Transfer kebabs to serving platter, squeeze lemon or lime wedges over kebabs, if desired; serve immediately.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2010 9:59 am

    Gorgeous photos! They all look amazingly good, especially the mushrooms. Grilling is one of my favorite things about summer, too :)

    • July 9, 2010 4:54 pm

      Thanks! I do have a special place in my heart for mushrooms- I try to throw them on just about anything. And grilled mushrooms are the best!

  2. Crystal permalink
    August 20, 2013 12:24 am

    How do you use the Chipotle Chile? Do you use only one pepper from the whole can? Do you use the sauce that’s in the can as well?

    • September 5, 2013 2:03 pm

      Hi Crystal! I’ve never actually found a recipe that’s used a whole can of chiles in adobo, so I usually take what I need and freeze the rest. Same with coconut milk if I don’t use the whole can or orange juice concentrate. Good luck!

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