Cathy Pollak writes Noble Pig from her home, vineyard and winery in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two sons. She is a passionate cook who left the beaches of Southern California for the rainy valleys of the northwest in pursuit of a dream. She shares mouthwatering recipes and tales of life on the vineyard on her blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
I love grilling….I mean really, really love it. Just the smell of something on the grill brings back so many childhood memories of weekends spent around some kind of barbecue. My Dad was one of those typical barbecuing guys, always adding too much lighter fluid trying to get his charcoals hot. Nevertheless, I can still smell the food cooking, and it’s a magical memory.
In Southern California, we grilled and barbecued all of the time, as the weather was always great. However, I now live in the Pacific Northwest, and it rains most of the year. Outdoor grilling year-round is not really feasible unless you stand under an umbrella for months. It’s just not the same, and that is why I am so excited about this new Searing Grill. I can use it all year long, regardless of the weather, while in the comfort of my own kitchen. It’s lightweight, a breeze to clean up and completely uncomplicated! I needed this so badly.
I think I’m most excited about making lunches for the gaggle of teenagers that hit my house over the summer months. It’s so easy to throw a bunch of hot dogs or burgers on the grill for my constantly hungry teenage boys and their friends. What kid doesn’t love a good grilled dog?
But minus the fun I’ll have at lunch time, this is the perfect appliance for making hot, grilled appetizers for a party. While my guests are talking and sipping cocktails, these Chile-Lime Shrimp are grilling away on my countertop. I can manage with ease what’s going on in the kitchen for the main meal, and I don’t have to go outside and check the barbecue all the time. As several skewers finish, I just throw a few more on as new visitors arrive. I’m in love with this idea of entertaining!
I never let these shrimp marinate longer than 30 minutes. Otherwise, they will start to “cook” from the acid in the lime juice. Also, why add vodka to the marinade? Just like salt, alcohol brings out the flavor in food. Alcohol does this by evaporation and molecular bonding. I know, it sounds a little geeky, but food is the beneficiary of alcohol’s ability to bond with both fat and water molecules. In this way, alcohol bridges the gap between our aroma receptors (which respond only to molecules that can be dissolved in fat) and food (which consists primarily of water). This is very important because most of the great flavor in food comes from aromas in the nose rather than tastes in the mouth.
Think about this in terms of making a marinade or brine with both water and fat soluble ingredients. If you take the flavor compounds in certain aromatics such as garlic, herbs or other fat soluble ingredients, alcohol helps carry those compounds into the food that’s soaking in the marinade or brine. But alcohol also helps carry water soluble flavor compounds into the food as well. Water soluble flavors would include sour, sweet, salty and bitterness. With alcohol’s effort, the result is more flavor and aroma into the marinated food. Even one tablespoon of a neutral-tasting vodka considerably improves the flavor penetration of any given marinade. For all of these reasons, I rarely make a marinade that does not include some type of alcohol. If you do not want to use the vodka in this recipe, just substitute another liquid like chicken broth.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and give this grill a try. I know you will love having such a versatile appliance in your kitchen. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are a group of hungry teens waiting for some burgers. Time to get out the grill.
Grilled Chile-Lime Shrimp Skewers
- 20 extra large jumbo prawns, peeled, deveined, tails left on
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Juice of three limes
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1 Tablespoon vodka
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/ 2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 25 thinly sliced pieces of lime
- 10 wooden skewers, soaked in water
- Garnish: Lime juice, fresh cilantro, salt
- Add olive oil, lime juice, honey, vodka, cilantro, chili powder, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne to the bowl of blender; blend until mostly smooth.
- Pour marinade over shrimp and let sit for 30 minutes, turning once.
- Preheat grill to 300 degrees F.
- Thread lime slices and shrimp on two skewers simultaneously, beginning with the lime. (Run skewer through the body of the shrimp, once near the tail and once near the head end of each shrimp so it looks like the letter C.)
- Place skewers on grill (three will fit at a time) and baste tops of shrimp with remaining marinade. Close grill and cook for 4 minutes. Turn shrimp over and cook for another 2-3 minutes with cover closed. Make sure shrimp are opaque and cooked through before removing from grill. Repeat with remaining skewers.
- Squeeze lime juice over finished shrimp and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of salt.
If you are feeling a little indulgent, drizzle a little butter over the shrimp before squeezing on the lime juice and other garnishes – it takes these skewers right over the top!
The high temperature of the Searing Grill makes it possible to get outdoor flavor indoors. Plus, the hood, grill plate and tray are removable and dishwasher-safe, making cleanup a breeze.