Grilling Skewers

An easy way to wow your friends whle enjoying your labor day weekend!


Hosting a party is a double edged sword. On the one hand you get to control everything, the guest list, the date and time, and of course the menu, but on the other hand you have to actually produce the party, which means you might very well be stuck in the kitchen, or manning the grill, for the duration. Now that doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

There’s no doubt that this upcoming weekend is going to be rife with parties, thought whether or not it will be rife with happy hosts is open to debate. Do yourself a favor if you’re hosting friends this weekend, give yourself the freedom to enjoy your own party. Consider letting your guests cook what they want when they want it but throwing a smorgasbord of skewered delights. No more worrying about who like their meat rare or well, or who prefers red meat to seafood. Simple prepare an assortment of skewered meats, a fiery hot grill, and then stand back with glass of wine in hand as you spend more time with your friends and less time catering to your friends, though that may very well be why they’re your friends in the first place! Let the skewering begin!

Grilled Lamb and Halloumi Kebabs

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Lamb and cheese together on a skewer. What form of sorcery is this? The insanely delicious kind, especially if you’ve got a source of really good pillowy pita bread to help safely remove the meat from the skewers, which can always be challenging. I really do love this recipe, it’s simple yet with complex flavors, and a bit surprising. The combination of lamb and cheese certainly calls for a red wine, something with plenty of acidity and lightly gamy flavors would be in order here. While a Greek wine might be a natural fit, I’m partial to some of the wines coming out of Lebanon and they would be perfect with this dish.

Two to try

Hochar Pere & Fils Cuvee Red $25

Chateau Kefraya les Breteches $17

Grilled Beef Skewers with Moroccan Spices

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Spicy and lightly sweet, this preparation is redolent with fresh herbs and the sweet notes of peppers and onions. I would like to see more spice here, perhaps a nice dusting of Ras el Hanout added in place of just cumin. I’d also use flat iron or blade steaks in place of the flank steak for a juicier, more tender final result. Any way you cook it though the blend of herbs and veggies here makes this a great choice for a rich Carmenere, a new world style that manages to preserve the savory notes Carmenere is capable of paired with plenty of sweet fruit would be ideal.

Two to try:

Koyle Carmenere Reserva $16

Inama Carmenere Piu $20

 

Halibut Kebabs with Grilled Bread and Pancetta

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Okay, I realize I’m cheating here, adding in that pancetta, but boy does it make a difference with this recipe. Pork makes just about everything taste better you know and here it adds in some much appreciated fatty juiciness as well. This is a simple, clean recipe which would work well with any meaty fish, though I do love my halibut so I’d leave it at that. It’s going to need a special wine though, one that can stand up to the pancetta without overpowering the fish, and then there’s that whole smoky aspect the grilling adds. I wouldn’t match up the grilled flavors with oak here, though you could do that, but would try and find a wine that has a naturally smoky, flinty character. The best Soave, grown on volcanic soils, fits the bill perfectly, delivering plenty of bright fruit character with subtle soil driven and savory nuances. We tend to think of Soave as just an inexpensive white wine but the best stand among Italy’s finest wines.

Two to Try:

Inama Soave Classico Vigneti Foscarino $24

Pieropan Calvarino Soave Classico Superiore $30
 

Tuscan Grilled Chicken, Sausage & Sage Skewers

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And here I continue to cheat, featuring a classic Tuscan blend of sausage and chicken on skewers. We can keep this all safe by using poultry sausages, though there is something special about that pork fat now isn’t there? If you want to really make these ultra delicious you can also thread a chicken liver or two on to the middle of your skewer for added flavor.  This is such a simple preparation that it really opens itself up to being paired with any white wine or light to medium bodied red. For my money I’d pair this with a rich, sappy rose and be done with it. Keeping with the Tuscan theme a nice Sangiovese based bottling would be ideal!

Two to try:

Marchese Mazzei Belguardo Rose $14

A To Z Winery Rose of Sangiovese $13

Grilled Shrimp and Sausage Skewers with Smoky Paprika Glaze

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And now we’re going to round out our pork augmented recipes with something that vaguely looks like jambalaya on a stick. This could also easily be confused with some Spanish tapas dish as well, but anyway you look at it it’s one spicy, complex and layered skewer.  Even though this recipe notes that you have to use fully cooked sausages because the shrimp will cook so quickly I think that most sausages will barely warm through in the time it takes to cook the shrimp. All the fat in sausage is capable of absorbing a lot of heat so consider smaller pieces of sausage and maybe roasting the roasage to help drain some of the fat before slicing it and threading the pieces on to the skewers. So where are we going to find the bold white wine we’re going to need to stand up to the flavors here? We’re going to stick in Spain and find a wine that will offer some contrast to the bold depth of flavor from the sausage and paprika. Crisp, deft, cool climate contrast like one finds in the top Albarinos!

Two to Try:

Do Ferreiro Albariño $25

Palacio de Fefinanes Albarino $23

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