Weeknight Dinner: Skewers


Chicken Skewer Plate

Skewers are a testament to the fact that a little planning ahead can yield super-satisfying results.  Though marinating your protein before cooking is not absolutely necessary, it does make for a much tastier end result, especially if you are cooking in a broiler or grill pan, which impart none of the additional flavor you get from a real grill.  I have a few marinades that I can pull together from items in my pantry and fridge, which allow me to control things like saltiness and sweetness, but you should feel free to use whatever you like.

As a rule for marinades, I stick to mixing together a flavorful liquid, some kind of oil, and then whatever herbs/spices/seasonings seem to go together; it is almost the same idea behind making salad dressings.  For instance, for chicken, I like to use lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and rosemary (as shown), or lime juice, olive oil and basil.  For an Asian marinade for pork, I use soy sauce, orange juice, peanut oil (as the main oil), garlic, ginger, sesame oil (a few drops for flavoring), and green onion/scallion (you don’t want to use sesame oil for the main oil because it is too expensive and will come out with a burnt flavor).  Feel free to experiment as much as you like with ingredients you have around, or if you are feeling adventurous, head to your local “ethnic” market and use a few new items with things you already know you like.  Proportions, for me, are 1 liquid to 1 oil, and then as many additional seasonings as I see fit; if you like garlic, load up your marinade with it.  Seasonings are generally a relatively low-calorie way to add flavor.

If you can muster the motivation, it is always best if you can get out of bed, put on some coffee and pull together your marinade for dinner that night.  Usually, by the time the java is ready, you’ll already have your protein in the refrigerator to marinate all day.  When you come home that night, all you have to is preheat the broiler, build your skewers, and decide on a side dish.  Perfect weeknight meal!

For this meal, the Bun also suggested a coulis made with Poblano peppers to serve on the side.  This was a surprisingly easy, delicious accompaniment and truly made the meal.  Basically, you roast two smallish Poblanos and three Serranos under the broiler until they turn black on all sides, turning every so often to make sure that they char evenly.  Remove them from the oven and throw them into a paper bag and close it up as tightly as possible.  Leave them in the bag until they cool enough to peel and seed (which should be super easy after roasting).  After that, it is just a matter of throwing them into a food processor or blender with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.  The flavor is like a concentrated pepper, and quite hot due to the Serranos; if you like less heat, use less Serranos.

If anyone has questions or concerns about pulling together a marinade, please let me know.  Also, if you have a good recipe to share, please feel free.

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