So instead, I wanted to give you just one tiny slice into how one family prepares it, as literally EVERY family does it differently.
And not just a little bit differently like with burgers. You put cilantro in the ground beef, you say? Putting butter on the bun before grilling? Whoa - shakin' the foundation here. You're still using beef, right? In a circular patty? Psh.
No, I'm talking WAY different. For example, my family only chooses the highest quality meat: pork ass. Apparently, my FIL thinks that the fat that's contained within that sweet swine rump soaks up the marinade so much better than anything else out there. But other families prefer the juicy tenderness of veal or lamb or even fish.
Sometimes I'm glad we don't live on a farm, because I could seriously imagine my FIL there in the pig pen, eyes closed and face pressed closely to the ass of the pig, and rubbing it lovingly. Best Jew ever.
The next most important part of my family's unique Shashlik tradition is the marinade. Apparently, this needs to be done the night before the grill gets fired up so that the fat can sufficiently soak up the juices. Again. VASTLY different methods exist. My FIL describes some people who marinade with seltzer, or with yogurt, or with a crazy Milk/yogurt mix called Kefir.
My family opts for just vinegar, onions, salt and pepper. This way the taste of swine butt can REALLY come through. Then you're supposed to put the meat under pressure by placing a huge weight on the pot where they're marinading. This aides in the soaking up of the juices. Don't ask me how this works. I know it's counter intuitive. You wouldn't squeeze the sponge to get more water in it, but apparently this is how it is with meat.
Ok, now you're ready for grilling. No, don't even THINK of using gas. People have been killed for using propane for shashlik. And hands off the charcoal briquettes. You have to use wood based charcoal. This way it makes the meat taste as if you really just cooked it in the middle of the woods. Never seen wood based charcoal before? Hmm, strange. Because it's the ONLY charcoal sold in the Grocery Store.
|Oh god, I'm drooling just looking at this picture from last weekend|
Notice anything strange about the skewers? They're not some wussy round skewers purchased to cook stupid crap like eggplants or peppers. These are home-effing-made flat skewers specially designed to sear the ass of all pigs they come into contact with. They also double as fencing epees, though, in a pinch. Or javelins. Tent stakes. Ear piercing mechanisms. You get the idea - they're sharp.
Seriously, I'm having hunger pains just thinking about how delicious the picture looks.
Best summer tradition ever. The first time I ever had shashlik, they were so delicious I ate three or four pieces at once. They got stuck in my throat and I had to lie down for thirty minutes because they wouldn't dislodge themselves. I think it was the second time I met my wife's parents. It was at that moment that my FIL knew I was the one for him.
Happy summer everyone, and welcome to Shashlik Country.