I’m always looking for ways to change up the old grilled hamburger in the summer, like tonight for example when I made meatloaf burgers. They made a better version of a meatloaf sandwich, more tender than a regular hamburger and already full of lots of flavors, so that they didn’t need a lot of additions piled on. Last year I put giant meatballs on skewers, and that worked out pretty well, too. They were spicy, like these kebabs, but without quite so much heat. I made the kebabs a few days ago on one of the long holiday weekend days.
Tip for keeping any ground meat shape on a skewer: don’t make too wet or loose a mixture. You want the meat to hold its shape around the skewer so you can turn it on the grill.
We ate them two ways in flatbread wraps. I topped mine with roasted peppers, fresh tomatoes, and a sour cream-cucumber sauce. My husband chose only the peppers and my homemade burger sauce (mayo, Sriracha, garlic, cumin, maple syrup, lime juice, salt).
Spicy Grilled Ground Meat Kebabs
Plan ahead so the meat and spices have a chance to marinate up to a day.
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 bay leaf, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried cilantro
- 2 teaspoons garlic paste or grated garlic
- 1-2 teaspoons ginger paste or grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 4 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour
- Mix the ground meat, spices, and aromatics until completely combined. You might even want to run the mixture through a meat grinder, especially if your ground meat has not been ground fine. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
- Divide into four and shape each portion into a long sausage shape around a bamboo skewer.
- Grill over direct heat for a few minutes on each side. They cook quickly and you don’t want to overcook them. You could cook them over indirect heat with the grill lid closed for about 10 minutes, browning over direct heat or not. I like the taste of the charred kebabs better.
So, here’s my experience with wings. I have seen wings on the whole chickens and turkeys I’ve cooked. That’s it. I have never cooked wings, never ordered or eaten wings in any of the dives in which they are popular, and, frankly, have never held much of a good opinion about them as food. I always figured they were developed to sucker drunks into spending more money for nothing but bones and skin. But here I am with 5 pounds of whole chicken wings, which turns out to be 15 of them, just to see what happens.
I don’t really care for the super sugary or vinegary barbecue sauces, so I figured I’d start with beer again, and work from there, since it works so well when I marinate whole chickens. I do like Mexican sauces made from reconstituted peppers, especially ancho peppers, so I made up a marinade that is pretty much like my enchilada sauce, but with lime juice instead of vinegar, a lot more garlic, and then the bottle of beer. Half of it went to marinate the wings, and the other half was cooked down a little for a basting and serving sauce.
One thing I refused to do was to cut them into pieces and cut off the pointed tips to discard. Aesthetically, I think they look better whole, and I don’t see why the tip can’t be used as a kind of handle. Let people break them apart on eating, I say.
They turned out well, easy to cook, easy to keep the heat moderate (250°-350°), and my husband declared them good, eating 9 whole wings. I ate 3, and, oh, here’s the other thing—I hate to get my fingers messy when I eat.
Marinating for 4 hours
Set out over direct heat
Basted near end
There they are—wings
Grilled Chicken Wings with Beer-Ancho Marinade
My marinade makes almost 4 cups, so you could do many more than the large 15 whole wings that I did.
4-5 medium dried ancho peppers, reconstituted in 2 cups water
4-5 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle (more if you like it hot)
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 12 oz bottle beer
- Reconstitute rinsed, seeded, and torn apart ancho peppers by pouring boiling water over and covering for at least 45 minutes. Place peppers and some of the water in a blender and process, adding the rest of the soaking water until combined and finely pureed. Pour through strainer into medium mixing bowl, stirring the pureed mixture until only bits of the pepper skin remain in the strainer. You want all the thick pulp, but not the bits of dried skin. It takes at least five minutes.
- Pour about 1/2 cup of the strained puree back into the blender with the garlic and spices. Blend until the garlic is completely minced. Pour back into the bowl with the rest of the pureed peppers. Don’t be silly by putting beer in the blender, but if you do, send me the pics of the results!
- Add the beer and lime juice into the puree and spices. Stir. Taste to see if you want more salt.
- Marinate the wings in large sealable plastic bags with about 2 cups of marinade. I put 7 wings in one bag and 8 in another, each with 1 cup of marinade. Refrigerate, turning at least once, for 4 hours.
- The remaining almost 2 cups of marinade can be simmered with one teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of water, not so much to thicken as to bind all the ingredients so they don’t separate. I used this to baste the wings during the last of the cooking.
Grilling the Wings
Cook over direct heat at 250°-350° for about 30 minutes, turning a few times.
15 whole marinated chicken wings
- Take the wings out of the refrigerator while you set up the grill, so they come to room temperature.
- Set up the charcoal grill for direct heat cooking with a full chimney of charcoal. I spread out the charcoal in a single layer to cover most of the cooking area and to keep the heat even. As you can see in the photo, I grilled some peppers and onions in the back, which were later cut up to go in some basmati rice cooked in chicken stock.
- Place the marinated wings on the cooking grid and close the lid. turn after about 10 minutes, if they are browned to your liking. I turned them twice before basting and moved a few around to get even browning on all of them. I think I went a little over 30 minutes, because I was concerned about them being done, but really, there’s not much meat there. I tried to use a thermometer, but I don’t see how you can use one without hitting a bone. If there’s a next time, I’ll just go by time.
- Remove after basted and browned to your liking.
They are really easy to make, but, unfortunately, messy to eat. The rice was great.
First, if you are going to put tomatoes in your chili, just don’t tell me about it.
Using up the last two pounds of venison cubes from the deer I killed last fall, and adding about 1.75 lbs of ground beef, I made a huge pot of chili today. I always make a huge amount of chili, mostly because it just seems right. The big flavors of meat and chili peppers, garlic and cumin and beans just wouldn’t look right in a small pot, so, we’ll be eating it for a few days, but that’s okay with me.
I make it in two pots, beans in one, meat in the other, both cooking in the same chili base, and then combine them for the last half hour. It works well to assure that both components are cooked to the right doneness.
Red color from chilis
Lean venison cubes
Mostly, I use venison for part of the chili meat and beef for the rest. Sometimes I use ground venison, but then I use beef stew chunks for the rest. Yes, I pretty much always use both chunks and ground meat. You get meat in every bite and the chunks are a real treat.
You need to make three things in this recipe, the beans, the pot of meat, and the chili base. Start with the beans:
Dried Beans Quick Soak Method
This recipe can hold a full pound of beans, but I only used a half pound today to highlight the meat and because it’s less filling. The method is the same for any amount, just adjust the ingredients.
- Rinse and sort pinto beans (or your favorite bean)
- Place in pot with 3 cups water for a half pound of beans
- Cover and bring to a boil
- Turn off heat and let sit covered for one hour
- Return to boil and then simmer, covered, for a second hour
- Add half the chili base during the last half hour
- Add all to the meat pot and cook for another half hour
Someone asked me once how chili would get a red color without tomatoes (someone who had never encountered dried peppers).
Using the recipe below for reconstituting dried chiles, prepare the chiles you will use (I used 5) while the beans are cooking. If you are not familiar with them, you should experiment. We finally settled on the flavor of ancho chiles as our favorite pepper flavor. Even if you decide on a few Anaheim or New Mexico chiles (hotter), I recommend using a few anchos for their depth of flavor. For a slight amount of smoky heat, I added a little ground chipotle.
- In a large sauté pan, sauté two chopped onions in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons salt over medium heat for about five minutes
- Add 3-4 large minced cloves of garlic and cook for another two minutes
- Add 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried or ground oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes
- Add the strained, reconstituted dried chiles with all their liquid and heat through (I used 5 ancho chiles today)
- Add half the base to the beans during their last half hour of cooking. Add the other half to the browned meat, cover and simmer for 1 hour
As noted above, we like a combination of ground meat and chunks, but either one by itself would be okay.
- Brown about 4 lb of meat in large pot—I used about 1/4 cup olive oil, a lot of salt, maybe 2 teaspoons, and pepper to brown the lean venison and then stirred in the ground beef to brown
- Add half of the chili base
- Cover and simmer for 1 hour—the meat cooking in the chili base is key for developing flavor
- Add beans and simmer all for about a half hour
- Make a slurry of Masa corn flour and water; I used about a cup of flour for this pot. If you can’t find Masa, you can use a fine ground corn meal, which will taste good, but be a little gritty. It’s kind of like cooking polenta in your chili! Stir in the slurry and cook until thickened–it will thicken quickly. I continue to simmer it for 5-10 minutes.
Reconstituted Dried Chiles
We lived in Texas for three years after grad school and got used to Tex-Mex cuisine, so I had to learn how to use dried chiles, because, for one thing, THERE ARE NO TOMATOES IN CHILI.
- Rinse dried chiles, remove stems and seeds
- Tear into pieces so it fits in a small container or bowl
- Cover with boiling water; cover container with plastic wrap; the final amount will depend on how much water you use in soaking (I used about 3-4 cups today)
- Set aside for about 45 minutes
- Place reconstituted chiles in blender with part of the liquid, adding more as needed to make a purée about the consistency of tomato juice (ironic, isn’t it?)
- Strain puree through a fine strainer to remove large pieces of pulp
You can’t keep this purée or freeze it, as it will separate and just not be the same.