Laura gave Tito a set of these adorable skewers when she was here. I’m not sure if she actually imagined him patiently threading meat and vegetables onto their cutie-patootie curlicue nonstick ends. Maybe she thought I’d do the crafty stuff and he’d grill them up, but in any case, I think I can be fairly certain that when she picked them out with her mom, she didn’t envision me threading them with vegetables and hanging them around my neck like tribal neckwear from a culture that reveres vegetables more than we do. But that’s what I did, because look at them:
Does that image not just scream put me on like a necklace? The tomatoes were quite fetching, the peppers exotic. The zucchini weren’t really my color, and felt funny against my skin. No, I never tried the onions or raw chicken on. Yes, I was home alone when this all went down. And I hadn’t yet brushed them with the sauce.
Moving on. I made the kebabs with two goals: one, to eat dinner, and two, to test out these skewers, to see if their utility (no soaking!) matched their cuteness.
Dinner was great. Utility was just okay, but in the end, I think the marginal benefit of cuteness with respect to utility was still positive. (Eeek, partial derivatives, anyone?)
See, the skewers are giant almost-circles, which creates sort of a space problem. We have a standard circular charcoal Weber kettle grill, which would fit about 8 curly skewers arranged perfectly in a starburst pattern. However, if your fire is only a foot in diameter in the center of the (roughly two-foot) grill, you run the risk of having eight skewers quite charred at one end and quite raw at the other. I decided to go for the all-or-nothing approach: I’d put whatever I wanted to cook in the center, and swap the skewers from the inside to the outside in successive batches, so that everything eventually got a turn in the spotlight, so to speak.
But no more than five minutes into the process, I’d twisted the tongs around the spirals on the end of each skewer, the skewer spirals together, and my fingers around the skewers I’d tried in my outlandish stupidity to pick by the cute end, despite the fact that they were, per usual, on a fire. (They looked so darn touchable!)
And there was Tito, vulturing behind me, used to being the one doing the grilling. I swore at the skewers and handed him the tongs, when he threw aside in favor of my precious red Williams-Sonoma oven mitt. Without hesitation, he went in for hand-to-hand combat with the tangled skewers, caramelizing creamy, mustardy sauce onto every useful surface of Big Red in the process.
Notes for next time:
1. Build bigger-diameter fire.
2. Make Tito use the new mitt Laura gave him, so he can’t ruin another one of mine. (I say this as if the red mitt was in perfect condition before the kebabs, which it wasn’t.) From now on, we will have outdoor oven mitts and indoor oven mitts.
3. Do not touch metal skewers when hot. Duh.
Recipe for Dijon-Dill Kebabs
Recipe 174 of 365
Instead of alternating meat or fish with vegetables the way many do with kebabs, I prefer to load each skewer with a single ingredient, so that I can give each thing the cooking time it needs – no one likes an undercooked onion.
If you use wooden skewers, soak them in a pan of water for about 30 minutes before using, to avoid burning them over the fire.
TIME: 20 minutes prep
MAKES: 4 servings
4 small chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes (you could substitute salmon, halibut, or shrimp)
2 small zucchini, cut into 1” rounds
6 small roma tomatoes, halved
1 bell pepper (any color), seeded and cut into strips
1/2 red onion, cut into 1” chunks
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh dill (equivalent of a 1-ounce package, if available)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
Prepare a charcoal grill (or preheat a gas grill) over medium heat. Thread the chicken, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and onions onto skewers, place on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Puree the mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, dill, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor until smooth, and brush the chicken and vegetables on both sides with the sauce.
Grill the kebabs over medium heat until nicely browned and cooked through – the onions will probably take the longest, about 8 minutes per side, followed by the chicken at about 6 minutes per side, then the peppers, then the zucchini, then the tomatoes. Brush the kebabs with additional sauce during cooking, taking care to give each side of each skewer a final hit on the heat before serving, so the sauce has a chance to cook onto the food. Serve hot (and don’t burn yourself on the skewers).