If you’ve been using the weather as an excuse for not pulling out the grill, the gig’s up.
I know that spring and cool temperatures lingered far too long this year, and many people, including me, were not in too big a hurry to start grilling.
But that’s changed with the proliferation of daytime temperatures in the 80s and lows in the high 50s to mid-60s. I even spiffed my grill up and threw a couple of rings of sausage on it over the weekend, which we served with some potatoes (both sweet and regular), onions and peppers. It was a fantastic way to celebrate Father’s Day.
Now, I’ve got kebabs on my mind. Kebabs, for the novice, are grilled skewers of marinated meat and veggies. They are perfect fare for any outdoor get-together. And they’re relatively inexpensive, too.
By using cheaper cuts of meat, which get nice and tender after a couple of hours sitting in a marinade, you can lower the cost of a meal considerably. If using beef, give cut-up chuck a try. And boneless sirloin pork chops can save you money over the more costly tenderloin. To really cut down on cost, go vegetarian.
Here are three recipes that I’m considering, which you may find appealing.
Coffee and Black Pepper Beef Kebabs
1 cup chopped shallots
¾ cup cider vinegar
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup molasses
2 tablespoons instant coffee
1½ tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1½ pounds top sirloin beef, cut into 1½-inch cubes
16 medium button mushrooms, cleaned and stems trimmed
16 cherry tomatoes
2 small red onions, cut into wedges
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
In a medium bowl, stir together the shallots, vinegar, oil, molasses, coffee, pepper and mustard. Add the meat and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
In a shallow dish, cover 8 10-inch bamboo skewers; set aside to soak. Heat a gas grill to medium-high or prepare a charcoal fire.
Assemble the kebabs, alternating meat and vegetables. Brush everything with marinade. Grill for 3 minutes. Turn, brush with additional marinade, then grill for another 3 minutes for medium, or until done to your liking.
Yield: Serve 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 592 calories, 241 calories from fat, 27 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 114 milligrams cholesterol, 35 grams carbohydrates, 50 grams protein, 3 grams fiber, 215 milligrams sodium.
1½ pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 12-ounce bottle beer
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons butter
20 small white onions, blanched
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch square pieces
Place beef, beer and garlic in a resealable food storage bag; cover. Refrigerate at least 12 hours, turning occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the marinade.
Combine barbecue sauce, reserved marinade and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat to a boil, stirring; cook 1 minute. Set aside.
Heat grill or grill pan. Thread meat, onions and bell peppers on skewers. Grill until desired degree of doneness, turning and brushing frequently with sauce, about 12 minutes for medium. Serve with sauce.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximae nutritional analysis per serving: 219 calories, 40 percent of calories from fat, 10 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 70 milligrams cholesterol, 11 grams carbohydrates, 21 grams protein, 407 milligrams sodium, 1.5 grams fiber.
Grilled Pork Kebabs and Vegetables with Couscous
2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon each: Dijon mustard, honey
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, more for garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
Freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic peeled, finely chopped
1 small red or sweet onion, chopped
1 15-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 each, thinly sliced lengthwise: yellow squash, zucchini
1 each, seeded, quartered: yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper
1 14.5-ounce can chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 12-ounce box couscous
Soak 12 wooden skewers in water 20 minutes. Combine mustard, honey, lemon juice, thyme, 2 tablespoons of the oil, salt and pepper to taste in a food storage bag; add pork. Seal; turn to coat. Let stand at least 30 minutes.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat; add garlic and onion. Cook until soft and slightly browned, 4 minutes. Add tomatoes; heat through. Season to taste. Set aside.
Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Thread pork onto skewers. Grill pork, squash and peppers until browned on one side, 5 minutes; turn. Grill until done, 5 minutes. Remove peppers, zucchini and squash to cutting board; dice. Add to tomato mixture. Heat over medium heat, stirring, to heat through, 2 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
Meanwhile, combine chicken broth and butter in medium saucepan; heat to a boil. Add couscous; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Remove from heat. Cover; let rest 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Put couscous on a platter; pour sauce over. Place pork skewers on top.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 540 calories, 26 percent calories from fat, 15 grams fat (4.2 grams saturated), 95 milligrams cholesterol, 890 milligrams sodium, 58 grams carbohydrates, 42 grams protein, 4.7 grams fiber.