There is nothing like grilling in the summer. We've been fortunate in Boston to have either my landlord's grill or my roommate's grill, so we've never had one of our own. Luckily there were never any "ugh, they left the gas on AGAIN?!" moments or surprises. Once we got here it seemed important to find a grill as quickly as possible. It happened pretty quickly... we found one today! Best part? It was free!! Thanks be to craigslist. A very kind gentleman posted a grill his friend had left behind, and was asking $20. The starter is broken, it has some slight cosmetic rust, but it works! And he didn't want a dime. Said he didn't want scrap metal seekers bothering him. Bonus; he took one look at Brian's compact car and threw it in his mini van.
To celebrate, we've had two of three meals hot off the grill today. :D Basic hotdogs for lunch, and never fails to make me swoon shrimp and pineapple kebabs for dinner. Wouldn't you know this is another recipe I can't recall where I first saw it? I know I read it the first time... I've just made it from memory - or as close as I can get - every time since then.
Shrimp and Pineapple Kebabs
40 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on)
1 pineapple (you'll use about 3/4 of it)
1 red onion
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Cut up the pineapple; start by cutting off the top leafy part. Then cut down the sides to shave off the outside spiny bits. Then cut off the bottom outside bit. If you look at the middle, there is a core - this part is woody and not good for nomming on. Cut off sections of the pineapple leaving that part behind, just like you would an apple. If you cut too far into it, you'll know, just trim it off. Cut those pineapple portions down into rough cubes, about 1 inch chunks. The idea is that the pineapple will char before the shrimp, and help protect it from overcooking and drying out, so don't get them too small. Plus, they split when skewered if they're too small.
Of course you can skip all that if you are substituting canned pineapple cubes. ;)
Cut the red onion into quarters or eighths (depending on number of skewers planned, and how cooked you want the onion). My pictures show eighths.
Toast the sesame seeds for a couple of minutes. Do not burn them! I find 4 minutes at 350*F is usually enough, it may finish faster in a toaster oven (I don't remember toaster times, and don't have a new toaster yet to try it).
Mix the sesame seeds with the teriyaki sauce.
Recruit a partner to help skewer the ingredients. I go every other pineapple, shrimp, pineapple and so on. Make sure you have a pineapple on each end; this helps keep the slippery shrimp in place, and boosts them off the grill. Put a red onion quarter/eighth near the middle of the skewer. Keep going until all skewers are full! We got 6 skewers out of the ingredients listed. It just depends on the size of your shrimp and pineapple pieces.
Use a silicone basting brush to brush on the sauce/seed mixture. The silicone really grabs the seeds, I was pleased with how easy this made it. Just brush them off on the pineapple chunks!
Grill for about 6 minutes, turning once. Shrimp are done when pink. Make sure they aren't grey, but don't leave them on the grill to dry out!
*to pick a pineapple, look for 3 things: color, smell, leaves. Color: it should be yellow, not green or brown, over much of the outside. Some green or some brown is ok, but too much means its either not ripe yet or past the ideal. Smell: if you smell near the base of the pineapple or the yellowest parts, it should smell like pineapple! Funny thing, huh? Leaves: my mom's fiance Steve swears by the leaf trick; grab a leaf and pull... if it comes out, its probably ripe. If they don't budge, don't buy it.
* you can easily sub a can of pineapple chunks if fresh pineapple isn't affordable/available/ripe.
* grill the extra pineapple to serve with vanilla ice cream for dessert. You can chill it a couple of days and then nuke it for a few seconds and it will still have that smokey grilled flavor. You can even make a simple glaze for it... though I bet a simple carmel sauce drizzled over it would be yummy.
* this can be prepped a few hours in advance. Then you're all set to throw them on the grill at dinner time! I wouldn't do it more than 4-6 hours early... you don't want the pineapple to dry out or anything weird. I'm too excited to eat this recipe to try longer advance prep times!
* Get the kids involved making their own skewers! Just be sure to help them with the onions (if they want onions... I don't eat them, but Brian loves them) since they can be tricky to stab through.
Notes on skewers: Some people swear by metal skewers. I haven't gotten around to buying a set yet. I find the wooden ones you pick up at the grocery store work fine. For shrimp, you don't usually have to do the pre-soak step because the cook time is so short. However, if you want to cook something that has to be well done (like chicken, or thick steak), soak the skewers in water for around 20 minutes before you load them up and grill. Once we get to more chicken and beef grilling, I may revisit my stance on not getting the metal ones. ;)
Tonight I served the kebabs with sliced French bread. It was handy and quick. This is also lovely with rice, cous cous, or grilled pita or naan slices. Start the meal with an appetizer salad while you wait, or be sure to have an extra helping of greens at lunch. ;) Just don't try to do too much once the kebabs are assembled - shrimp grills up really fast! (And gets cold quickly.)
PS: I just hit 1000 site visits! Thanks guys! :D