Three marinades to dress up your kebab proteins

L to R: Green curry top sirloin, raspberry barbecue top sirloin, achiote and lime chicken.

One of the benefits of doing kebabs is you get a lot of bang for your buck. As you can see just by looking at the photo above, they always come out looking awesome and, obviously, tasting amazing because you can't go wrong with meat and veggies over fire. 

Top sirloin is a good choice for kebabs because it's easy to cut into relatively similar-sized portions, and it's easy to trim out the tough bits. For the same reason, I like boneless chicken thighs because they're sliced out in a sheet and you can cut them into chunks that hold moisture better than breast meat. That also means, as they're a bit tougher, they can withstand a little more acid and take on some extra flavor if you let them sit around in something bangin' like achiote paste. 

I chunk my meat up in cubes and then let it marinade to max out my surface area. Kebabs are perfect easy-but-fancy-looking party food because you do everything but assemble them the night before. 

When choosing your veggies, pick some that are fairly high in water and sugar. These cook pretty fast, so you want everything to caramelize but not become mushy. If you do tomatoes like I did, they'll likely pop, but you won't lose too many to the grill. 

Last, you want your chicken to feel firm when you pinch it with your tongs, but not hard and dry. The chicken is brined so it will have a little extra moisture on board, which prevents some over cooking. With your steak, you want it to have plenty of give when you squeeze it with the tongs. Pull it off the heat when the meat still compresses under pressure but has plenty of color. You're going for medium-rare to medium. Anyone who wants well done beef should be disinvited on the spot. 

Buttermilk Curry Marinade


1 1/4 Buttermilk

4 tablespoons green curry paste 

3/4 cup purple onion pickling brine

As you can guess, I had some buttermilk leftover from the Potato Salad That Doesn't Suck recipe, so I combined the remainder (a little over a cup and quarter), and I mixed it with some curry paste and the brine from a jar of purple onion pickles in my fridge. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I can report that it was actually really good. It was last in the taste test, though, which gives you an idea of what's coming. 

Raspberry barbecue vinegar marinade

1 cup black raspberry barbecue sauce 

1 cup leftover red wine

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Another amalgamation of things I had in my fridge that sounded like they'd be delicious on beef, this one was the clear favorite. It retained all the fruitiness of the raspberries all the way through the meat, and the leftover sugar on the outside made almost like a candy shell but didn't char. Two big thumbs up. 

Achiote lime chicken brine

1 Cup jalapeño pickle brine

2 tablespoons achiote paste

juice of 1 a lime

1/4 c salt

1/4 c brown sugar

2 c water

This is about what I ended up with after covering all the chicken. The main points, however, remain: spicy pickle brine, achiote paste (available at any hispanic or international grocery), lime juice, all in a salt-sugar brine. These were planned and they were absolutely delicious and spicy and juicy and wonderful. 


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