Friday, July 14, 2006

BBQing with Skewers

My in-laws are coming over for dinner and I had planned a roasted rosemary chicken dish accompanied by a lovely mushroom risotto (misnomer because it's actually made with barley) that I found in the The Sonoma Diet book. However, the thought of the oven on for an hour and standing over the stove and stirring for 45 minutes on one of the hottest days yet, made me come up with the need for an alternative.

So I pulled out my grilling cookbooks and found exactly what I was looking for in BBQ Food For Friends by Jane Lawson & Vanessa Broadfoot. You'll have to check back tomorrow for the recipes, because this post is really about the tools. I wanted to do something more than just throw some steaks on the grill (delicious as that would be). So when I found two recipes that required skewers I was excited. But what really caught my attention was that one recipe used rosemary skewers and tucked on the same page is my handwritten scribble (obviously I was watching some cooking show and didn't mention which one)was another recipe that used lemongrass skewers. And yet antother entry for Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging Event.

I'm actually cross posting to Ask Ruth because I thought I take the opportunity to talk about options. The long stainless steel skewers on the left are standard and good for everything, but really work the best for meat (because they're so sturdy and long), especially if you want to make kebabs of ground lamb and seasonings - I'll have to do that in the near future. Then there are bamboo skewers (second from right) that you need to soak for at least 30 minutes before using them. I love them for satays (chicken, beef, lamb or pork) and they're fabulous for shrimps, scallops and firm fish. They're much easier to use, especially when making appetizer sized portions.

But for the really fun skewers....try to do chicken or fish on rosemary skewers (extreme right). You just remove all the leaves except for the tuft at the end. I chop up the leaves, mix them with some olive oil, lemon juice and garlic and voila a marinade! Rosemary has quite a potent aroma, so you don't really need to add too many other flavors to the marinade (if you even choose to use one at all). Another interesting skewer that flavors from within is lemongrass stalks (second from the left). It gives a sublte Asian flavor so you can add ginger, soy, garlic, etc. to marinades.

So for those of you out there who are already adventurous with skewers, let me know what your favorites are and I'll post a round up. You can email me at ruth AT 4everykitchen DOT com.

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Kalyn Denny said...

Where do you find the lemongrass? I can't seem to find it here except at the Asian market, which isn't in my neighborhood. I haven't used rosemary for skewers, but I hear it works very well.

Ruth Daniels said...

Kalyn, actually it's getting easier here to find lemongrass, but it's still hit-and-miss. I got this bunch at my local upscale food purveyors. I must say that threading the chicken was not nearly as easy as using the rosemary. It kept bending! But finally with the help of a knife and metal skewer I was able to make big enough holes.

The highlight though was the sea bass on the rosemary !!!! My new favorite - we'll be having this often - at least as long as my rosemary bush will allow. The problem with buying fresh rosemary around here is that it comes in bunches that are too short. Trust me, you HAVE to try it.

Thanks for dropping by.

Unknown said...

I just harvested some very mature basil plants and wondered if I could use the branches for skewers - has anyone tried that? I have lots of rosemary branches to prepare for skewers and think I'll try removing the bark and freezing them to see if they will last that way. If so, I'm set with some great holiday presents for my friends.

Ruth Daniels said...

Judy, my challenge here in Halifax is finding basil PERIOD. Even in Toronto, I never found any with stalks that seemed firm enough, woody enough to use as skewers. I guess the best thing to do would be to try one or two and see how it goes.

Please let me know because I love basil that that would be such a wonderful way to use it.