May is a great time for family gatherings and grilling out. The United Stated produces more beef than any other country in the world – nearly 19% of the worlds beef. The journey from the beef cattle in the field to the market and then onto a grill takes a lot of people playing valuable roles to make the process successful.
To help celebrate National Beef Month, Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation and the Iowa Beef Industry Council have a wonderful book written by Katie Olthoff called “My Family’s Beef Farm,” written from the viewpoint of a young girl that is growing up on her family’s beef cattle farm. It’s a great read and we invite you to visit our website for the digital version that you can share with the young ones in your family.
Beef Shish Kebabs are on my menu today! What is a shish kebab? The name shish kebab is Turkish in origin. It literally means “gobbets of meat that are roasted on a spit or skewers”. Shish translates to skewer and kebab traditionally refers to the meat, vegetable or whatever you decide works on your skewer. The English food definition of shish kebab is a skewer with meat and vegetables, usually grilled. Meat options for kebabs could be beef, chicken, pork, lamb, seafood or are whatever meat you prefer. When it comes to vegetables…use as many different vegetables as the length of your skewer will allow! Shish kebabs recipes are endless.
I have chosen sirloin tips for a basic beef shish kebab. It’s a great cut of meat and won’t break the bank. (If you’re looking for an option that goes from butcher to grill – without marinating, use a more expensive cut like filet mignon or porterhouse.) Sirloin tips come from the hind quarter of the beef cow near the leg and rump. Marinating is a vital part of this recipe and serves a function to tenderize and enhance the flavor of the meat. This area of the beef cow contains connective tissues and muscles that get a lot of workout and there is not as much fatty tissue. It can be chewy because of the connecting tissue and muscle, so marinating will help break that down, tenderize the meat and enhance the flavor.
I like to marinate the sirloin in a soy sauce marinade along with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and garlic cloves. Spain is the largest producer of olive oil. Olive oil is produced by crushing olives, stirring to form a paste consistency and then pressing to release the oils. This process is called malaxation.
Lemons come from states like California and Arizona or countries like India, Argentina and Spain. Lemons are grown in orchards and require rain, fertile soil and warm temperatures and are in the peak of season in May through August. Lemons give health benefits of being high in vitamin C and also have antioxidant effects on the body.
We discussed garlic in our previous blog “What’s Cooking? Cola Pot Roast”. I marinate overnight to allow the meat to tenderize. Just mix the ingredients together and put into a shallow glass dish, cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours to allow the process of breaking down the proteins to take place.
I like simple flavors- so I use mushrooms, red and green peppers, and new potatoes for my vegetables. All you need to do is alternate vegetable and beef bites onto the skewer. It is important that the beef and vegetable pieces are bite sizes and that you allow for a little space between the meat and vegetable. This will allow the heat to penetrate all around the skewer and as the skewer is rotated the meat and vegetables will cook to perfection. You also want the temperature of the grill low and allow the heat to slowly cook the skewered bites.
I like the basic white button mushroom and they are the most common choices in the grocery store and they range in a variety of sizes. The flavor is a mild, earthy one and they are available year round. This mushroom is grown indoors year round in an environment that is carefully controlled. It comes from a spore not a seed (because it is a fungus) and is grown in organic matter, like compost. The process of growing starts in a sterile laboratory environment and mature mushrooms create billions of spores. It is quite an interesting process. This mushroom is harvested when very young in growth cycle.
I really like red and green peppers … But have wondered – what’s the difference? Green peppers are harvested early. They are essentially immature red, orange and yellow peppers. Because they are less ripe the flavor can be bitter. All peppers are a great source of vitamins A and C. Red peppers carry 11 times more beta carotene than green peppers and yellow peppers carry 1.5 times more Vitamin C.
Potatoes are said to have many health benefits like lowering blood pressure and promoting heart health by adding fiber, potassium and vitamins to our diet. Potatoes are usually grown from other potatoes or pieces of potatoes. Potatoes grown underground from a tuber – a short, thick round stem which originated from the piece of potato. Potato farmers actually plant potatoes to grow potatoes. There are many varieties to choose from. Idaho is the nation’s top producer of potatoes. New potatoes are planted in the winter and then harvested in early spring or summer. They are small and round and have a very thin skin. The flavor is sweet and they taste awesome on a shish kebab.
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup olive oil
3 -4 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Green & red pepper bites
White mushroom bites
Sirloin beef tips
The recipe is an easy one. Mix the soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice together. Cut peppers, mushrooms and beef into bite sized pieces and put into a shallow glass dish. Pour marinade over beef and vegetables. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours to allow the meat to tenderize. Put meat and vegetables onto skewers alternating between vegetables and beef bites. Remember it’s important that the beef and vegetable pieces are bite sized! Leave a little space between each piece to allow the heat to circulate all around the skewer. Place the skewers on a hot grill over medium heat. Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the meat is cooked to desired doneness. Rotate skewers after 5 minutes. Enjoy!