Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cookbook Library: Licensed to Grill

Although it is a rainy Labor Day weekend here in Portland, tradition calls for grilling. So I turned as always to License to Grill by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, authors of the very popular Thrill of the Grill. This time, I tried their Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Skewers with Pickled Onion and Avocado Salad. The recipe was simple, although it involved a lot of separate parts. Use one pound of raw shrimp—peeled and deveined, but with the tails on. The recipe called for 16-20/pound shrimp, which Safeway didn’t have, so I used 20-25/pound shrimp and they worked fine. Start the salad first: Thinly slice one red onion and soak for one hour in white vinegar. Chop two avocados into medium chunks. Seed and core one medium tomato and chop into 1/2” to 1” chunks. Toss avocado and tomato with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon cumin, and 1 teaspoon crushed garlic. Set in fridge while onions soak. Right before serving, drain the vinegar off the onion; toss the onions with the rest of the salad; add 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro. (See NOTE.) To make the kebabs: Dice 8 oz of slab bacon (the kind that isn’t pre-sliced) into 1/2 oz cubes. Blanch in boiling water for about 1 minute to they are cooked before the go on the grill. Thread the kebabs: alternate shrimp, a cube of bacon, a 1” red pepper chunk, a 1” piece of green onion, repeat. I got 3 shrimp and 2 of everything else on a 9” stick. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat for about 3 minutes or so, until the shrimp are cooked through but not dried out. Serve kebabs on top of the salad. NOTE: There were a couple of things I would change about the recipe. 1) The bacon, even though it was cooked through and gave good flavor to the shrimp, was too blubbery to eat. I don’t know what to do about that. I think substituting a pre-cooked sausage like a kielbasa would give the same flavor without the blubber -- and no par-boiling required. 2) Unless you REALLY love onions, use only half or less of what the recipe calls for. I made them all, but only used about 1/3. 3) The salad needs something crunchy. I served it on a couple of romaine leaves and that turned out to be a very good addition. All in all, a good recipe because it got me to try shrimp kebabs on the grill. Needs adaptation, but I will make this one again.


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