Happy Labor Day Weekend, everyone!
If you happen to live in a part of the world that isn’t being harassed by a hurricane or tropical storm this long weekend (unlike me….thank you Hermine!), and are looking for something tasty to throw on the grill, then this one’s for you! It’s a recipe I developed at work for Cook’s Illustrated and was just published in our September-October issue. It took me a while to come up with a combination of ingredients and simple techniques that would allow me to achieve, what at the start, I thought was near impossible; produce a tasty kebab where both the vegetables and shrimp were properly cooked, and picked up great char flavor from the grill.
Part of the challenge had to do with discovering the ideal “geometry’ of the food on the skewer to maximize contact with the grill, and thereby enhance flavor. Part had to do with choosing vegetables that were soft enough to cook quickly so I would lessen the risk of overcooking my fragile shrimp. Finally, I discovered that giving a couple of the veggies a quick head-start in the microwave was the only way to guarantee success every time! If you’re interested in the real nitty-gritty of the testing I went through in developing this recipe you can click HERE, if you’d rather just get on with crafting a delicious meal for your holiday weekend guests, then by all means, let’s get to it!
Cheers – Steve
- 1 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 large red or yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ¾-inch-wide by 3-inch-long strips
- 24 cremini mushrooms, trimmed
- 12 scallions, cut into 3-inch lengths
- 2 tablespoons tablespoons vegetable oil
for the vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
- 1/4 cup cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt and sugar in 1 quart cold water in large container. Submerge shrimp in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Remove shrimp from brine and pat dry with paper towels.
- Line large microwave-safe plate with double layer of paper towels. Spread half of bell peppers skin side down in even layer on plate and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Microwave for 2 minutes. Transfer bell peppers, still on towels, to cutting board and let cool. Repeat with fresh paper towels and remaining bell peppers.
- Line second plate with double layer of paper towels. Spread mushrooms in even layer on plate and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Microwave for 3 minutes. Transfer mushrooms, still on towels, to cutting board and let cool.
- Lay 1 shrimp on cutting board and run 12-inch metal skewer through center. Thread mushroom onto skewer through sides of cap, pushing so it nestles tightly into curve of shrimp. Follow mushroom with 2 pieces scallion and 2 pieces bell pepper, skewering so vegetables and shrimp form even layer. Repeat shrimp and vegetable sequence 2 more times. When skewer is full, gently press ingredients so they fit snugly together in center of skewer. Thread remaining shrimp and vegetables on 7 more skewers for total of 8 kebabs. Brush each side of kebabs with oil and season with pepper.
- FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter mounded with charcoal briquettes (7 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
- FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.
- FOR THE VINAIGRETTE: While grill heats, whisk all ingredients together in bowl.
- Clean and oil cooking grate. Place kebabs on grill and cook (covered if using gas) until charred, about 2 1/2 minutes. Flip kebabs and cook until second side is charred and shrimp are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes, moving kebabs as needed to ensure even cooking. Transfer kebabs to serving platter. Rewhisk vinaigrette and drizzle over kebabs. Serve.