The Independence Day countdown is on! Time to pull out the flags, streamers, sparklers and skewers. Skewers? Yes, you read me right. This July 4th, leave those burgers and hot dogs in the fridge and hail the kebab. Who doesn’t love a kebab? A food lover’s party on a stick. Kebabs beg to be prepped in advance, just waiting to be fired up when stomachs start growling. They’re aesthetically pleasing and easy to customize for the kids. When firing up your grill this Thursday, I encourage you to go kebab.
The only challenge with skewered food is cooking times. You can’t alternate a slow-cooking item with a fast-cooking one or something will be terribly over or under done. An obvious solution is to skewer in categories–chicken on one stick, vegetables on another but with that approach you lose the appealing array of colors, flavors and textures. A better alternative is to pair items that will cook at the same rate over a moderate heat. This is why pork and a sturdy chunk of pineapple in a nice option, while chicken and a cherry tomato leaves something to be desired.
Back in June 2010, Bon Appetit featured a cover recipe for Grilled Shrimp and Sausage Skewers with Smoky Paprika Glaze and it has been my “go-to” grill recipe ever since. The kebabs work because fast-cooking shrimp are paired with fully cooked sausages such as andouille or linguica. The grilled tomatoes and onions add a nice sweetness that is complimented by the smokiness of the paprika glaze.
On Thursday morning, you’ll find me standing on the sidelines of our neighborhood parade, wearing red, white and blue, waving a small flag and feeling proud to be an American. My eyes will well up with tears when I think of our soldiers overseas and the sacrifices being made for all that we take for granted. There will be time splashing in the pool and ice cream cones melting faster than they can be licked. I’ll end the long day, laying on a blanket surrounded by friends and family, staring up at the sky in utter amazement at the fireworks display honoring the birthday of all birthdays. And in between, I will be grilling up these skewers, kicking back with an ice, cold beer and celebrating life…American-style.
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, pressed
- 2 Tbls chopped fresh thyme
- 5 tsp smoked paprika (Pimenton Dulce)
- 4 tsp Sherry wine vinegar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
- 12 uncooked extra-large shrimp (13-15 per pound), peeled and deveined
- 12 1-inch long pieces andouille or other fully cooked smoked sausage
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- 12 2-layer sections of red onion wedges
- Non-stick vegetable oil spray
- 6 long metal skewers (or if using bamboo, be sure to soak them for at least one hour before grilling)
- Whisk oil, garlic, thyme, smoked paprika, Sherry wine vinegar, salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper in a medium bowl to blend for glaze. Transfer half of glaze to small bowl and reserve for serving.
- Alternately thread shrimp, sausage pieces, cherry tomatoes, and sections of onion wedges on each of 6 long skewers. Arrange skewers on a large rimmed baking sheet. This can be done up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill skewers and the bowls of glaze separately.
- Coat grill rack with nonstick spray and prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush skewers on both sides with glaze from one bowl. Grill until shrimp are opaque in center, turning and brushing occasionally with more glaze, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Arrange skewers on platter. Serve with remaining bowl of glaze.