Monday, June 17, 2013

Shish Tawook from Steak and Sass

I'm not certain how I cam across this Shish Tawook recipe, but I know it was because I saw the pretty picture next to the recipe.  This recipe is from Steak and Sass written/photographed by a husband and wife team in Egypt.  She actually has a section called "Sassings" which sadly, is currently empty, but I'm curious to see what "sassings" she might add.  Catchy title, check, catchy food porn, check- its time to head to the kitchen. 

I gathered the ingredients I needed  This recipe is really done in two sessions since you need to marinate the chicken.  

I stated preparing the marinade by quartering the tomatoes and removing the stem end and adding them to my food processor bowl.  

I quartered an onion and added it to the food processor along with all of the spices. I squeezed the juice of one lemon directly into the processor.  I put the lid on and processed the marinate until it looked smooth.  

Next, I cut the chicken thighs into kabob appropriate sizes.  

The recipe makes quite a bit of marinade, so you can easily use more chicken.  My 1/2 pound of chicken is in there already drowning in the marinade in this picture.  I put the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.  

The next morning, the first thing I did was turn on the oven to pre-heat to 350 degrees.  I placed my cast iron skillet in the oven to heat as well.  The recipe author suggests heating the skillet in the oven "on highest heat."  I decided against that as I knew that a skillet heated to 350 degrees over a flame would be plenty hot to sear the chicken without completely smoking up my kitchen.   Next, I cut an onion up into eighths and a bell pepper into shish kabob appropriate sizes.  

I actually fished the chicken out of the Pyrex dish I marinaded them in so I could see how much meat I had and I threaded the veggies and meat on to wooden skewers.  I had a little meat left, a lot of onion left and I ran out of bell pepper by the time I finished assembling 4 skewers.  I stored the left over ingredients rather than make more incomplete skewers.  

The skewers I used were a little two long for my 10" cast iron skillet so I snipped them down to size with my kitchen shears.

I carefully removed the skillet from the oven with an oven mitt and put it on my stove top and turned the burner on high.  Be super careful as it only takes a second to seriously burn yourself.  I added 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil to the skillet and then added the skewers.  Only 3 skewers would comfortably fit in the pan.  I stored the 4th as I only had time to cook one batch when I prepared this before work.  

Watch out when you put the skewers in the pan as the oil will splatter far and wide and it will burn you.  Wear an apron to protect your clothes and skin.  Have your overhead fan on high and perhaps a window open as this will smoke up your house.  I can't imagine what this would do at 500+ degrees.  

I let the chicken brown on each side.  This took about 15 minutes.  The chicken was brown, but I decided to put it in the still heated oven for 5 minutes just to make sure it was cooked through.  

Perhaps if I had multiplied the recipe, used red peppers and garnished, my chicken would look closer to the picture.  When I print recipes to cook, I don't include the pictures to save on ink.  The recipe didn't say to use a red bell pepper so I used green.  Flavor-wise, it makes no real difference, but visually the red definitely looks better.  These look lonely and kinda boring.  

Do they look better this way?  Nah.  Drat.  They are fine, but pale in comparison with the author's pictures.

Accessibility & Cost of Ingredients:  You should be able to find everything you need for this recipe at your "big box" grocery store pretty inexpensively.  

Preparation & Cooking Time:  It took me 12 minutes to prepare the chicken to marinate.  I let the chicken marinate over night.  It took 13 minutes to cut up the onion and pepper and assemble the kabobs.  The cooking time was 15 minutes on the stove top plus 5 minutes in the oven.  

Clean Up:  After you cook the chicken in that hot skillet, there will be a nice splatter mess to deal with.    Also, if I make this again, I will not use my cast iron pan.  I've always read warnings about not cooking acidic food like tomatoes in cast iron and now I know why.  The tomato from the marinate messed up my nice seasoning layer on my pan.  So, I had to scrub my pan down with steel wool after and start the process of re-seasoning the pan again.  Kitchen sadness. 

The Paleo Review:  Meh.   For the amount of time and effort put into making this dish, the flavor just wasn't there.  It wasn't bad but it wasn't great.  Nothing really stood out for me flavor-wise.  I see where she says in the recipe instructions to serve with parsley and lemon slices.  The lemon slices are not in the ingredient list.  It only calls for one lemon that was used for juice in the marinade.  I don't think lemon juice would have improved the flavor enough to change my opinion about this recipe.  

Don't get me wrong, they were ok to eat and I ate them (I have thrown out recipes before- I'm not going to eat food I don't enjoy).   I'm probably not going to include this in my regular recipe rotation, but I'll certainly look around the Steak and Sass site a bit more for other recipes and check back for "sassings."