Kebobs, A History

Kebobs, A HistoryKebobs
Since man discovered fire, we have been cooking meat on a stick. Luckily for us, the art of grilling skewered meat has been honed over the centuries. And, what we know today as kebob is a tasty and speedy way to enjoy all your favorite proteins.

The word Kebob does not refer to a single dish but instead to a whole category of dishes that span many cuisines. Though they go by a variety of names, kebobs, kebabs, keftas, koftas, satay, souvlaki, tikka, shawarma, and yakitori to name a few, all of them require a skewer and fire. And some, like koftas and keftas can also be baked or braised.

Kebobs can be chunks of meat threaded alongside vegetables or they can be ground meats like keftas and koftas that are pressed onto skewers. They can consist of thinly sliced chicken threaded like ribbons—in the case of a satay. They can be stacked, skewered, and sliced again to enjoy on some naan for shawarma—or can be placed inside warm pita bread to enjoy the mother of all kebobs and Greek favorite, gyros.

Every culture has its own version of kebobs and just like the number of spellings, the opportunities for a great tasting meal are endless. Though the word kebob tends to bring to mind the flavors of the middle east, kebobs are a great addition to your own backyard BBQ. They are a great way to get your protein and veggies together in one go.

Honey Teriyaki Chicken and Sirloin Kebobs Recipe
Adapted from All Recipes
Yields 10 servings

This kebob recipe makes grilled steak and chicken that won’t dry out on the grill. It stays moist and flavorful. These sweet kabobs are simple to make and delicious to eat. Read more…

Ground Bison

Ground BisonYou may have noticed the new freezer in our meat department. Its purpose is to house the products that are a little bit off the beaten path. In you will find things for the more adventurous palates. There is duck, rabbit, crawfish, squab, and perhaps the most versatile option of all, ground bison.

For the meat lovers out there who are looking for a healthier alternative to beef but still want all of the flavor, bison is the perfect choice. Bison meat has a similar texture and flavor to beef but has about one third the amount of total fat as well as saturated fat. It is also higher in protein, omega-3 acids, and iron.

The methods used to raise bison are also better for the environment and more sustainable than raising beef. Most bison are raised using regenerative agriculture—which basically means they are allowed to move and exist in much the same ways they have over the centuries. Because of this, bison help sustain grassland ecosystems through grazing, fertilization, trampling, and other natural behavior.

This method also allows for the regeneration of healthy, productive soils and grasslands. And because of that, it is a major source of carbon sequestration. The impact of climate change on native grasslands means that regenerative pastures are becoming more and more important as sustainable carbon sinks. Studies show that grassland carbon capture is more dependable than forests, as grasslands suffer fewer wildfires and disease, and regenerate far quicker.

Bison can be prepared in basically the same ways as with beef however, because it is leaner, you have to watch out that it is not over cooked. Ground bison can be substituted for all of your favorite ground beef recipes like burgers, tacos, meatballs, or chili and would be a great alternative for your summer BBQ.

Bison Chili Recipe
Yields 6 to 8 servings
Adapted from Ree Drummond and The Food Network

Ground bison makes a delicious chili. This recipe has all the depth of flavor of a classic chili recipe. It is delicious served with tortilla chips (as per the recipe) or cornbread and butter on the side. Be certain to serve the chili with the lime wedges to squeeze over your bowl and brighten the flavor. Read more…

Halibut

HalibutDid you know that Salmon is not the only fish that has a season?
Halibut season runs from mid-March thru early November and is just as anticipated by some people as the wild salmon season—or for those of us in the SF Bay Area, Dungeness crab season.

Halibut is more often than not sold as fillets but every once in a while you get lucky and can find steaks. Your best bet for cooking methods include: panfrying, braising, poaching, and adding to soups and stews. Grilling is not recommended unless you are using steaks because the fillets will fall apart.

There are three different species of Halibut (Family Pleuronectidae).

Atlantic Halibut
The Atlantic Halibut is the largest flatfish in the world. They have been known to reach up to fifteen feet in length. The largest catch ever recorded weighed almost 700 pounds! In the past, the Atlantic halibut population had been considered endangered due to over-fishing. Careful oversight and regulation have now changed that, though population levels are still below target numbers. Nonetheless, Atlantic halibut is considered a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed.

Pacific Halibut
Pacific halibut is not as large as it’s Atlantic cousin but it comes close, reaching lengths of eight feet and up to 500 pounds. Found most commonly in the north Pacific in the waters off the coast of Alaska, Pacific halibut is widely prized for its great tasting meat that stands up to strong ?? It is also a favorite of sport fishermen vacationing in Alaska. Due to careful management, Pacific halibut populations are healthy which makes it a frequent choice of restaurants and consumers alike.

California Halibut
The smallest species of halibut typically only weighing from 6 to 30 pounds although they can grow up to five feet long and weigh up to 72 pounds. Also known as California flounder, it’s mild flavor and large flakes make it a versatile choice for cooking. They are fished commercially year round but recreational fisherman can have their fun from May to November.

If you are planning to try some fresh halibut, here is a favorite recipe.

Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth Recipe
Adapted from Ellie Krieger and The Food Network
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Corned Beef

Corned beef and cabbage is the quintessential food of St. Patrick’s Day. However, much like our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the tradition of corned beef for your holiday dinner is an American invention and was not brought over from Ireland.

But what exactly is corned beef?
The process of “corning” meat is actually just salt curing or pickling. The word corning is used in reference to the size of the salt grains. They were typically as big as kernels of corn. Therefore, Corned Beef is just pickled beef, usually a brisket.

Historically, the Irish people considered beef to be a luxury that was not often eaten. And, instead they would turn to ham or bacon for their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. It wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America where beef was actually cheaper and more readily available that corned beef became the staple. The same is true for cabbage. It was the most economical vegetable available and therefore became the obvious choice as an accompaniment.

The preparation of corned beef is not without controversy. Typically, corned beef is made using sodium nitrate to help prevent the growth of bacteria. It is also what gives corned beef its distinctive pink color. Some in the medical profession believe that sodium nitrate can cause damage to the blood vessels which can lead to heart disease. Others conclude it is harmless and that a person can consume more nitrates through other foods like spinach and celery. The debate continues on. But, ultimately the choice is up to you. Frankly leaving out the sodium nitrate, or salt peter as it is also known, can make it easier to corn your own beef as salt peter can be difficult to find. The flavor results are the same.

Corning your own beef is a great way to control what ingredients are used. But, beware that you will need to plan ahead. The brisket, or whatever meat you choose, will need to sit in the brine for multiple days.

Nitrate-Free Corned Beef Recipe
From adapted from Michael Symon’s Carnivore
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…