Seasonal Cooking 30 May 2013 09:19 pm
Memorial Day has roots, according to Wikipedia, in “decoration days,” post- and even pre-Civil War commemorations and celebrations where people gathered to decorate soldiers’ graves. Afterward they’d have a “dinner on the ground” — a potluck on tablecloths spread on the grass. I guess these potlucks are part of the spirit and the history of the barbecues and feasts we have as Memorial Day traditions today. So even if my friends and I didn’t to pause to remember fallen soldiers when we gathered this past weekend, at least maybe we can say that the barbecuing and feasting was in their honor. Here’s to you old soldiers, and thanks.
And boy was there was barbecuing and feasting. There were hotdogs and chickens and there were sausages. There were burgers and potato salad and deviled eggs. There were (this being Brooklyn) homemade pickles and handmade mustard. And there were ground chicken kabobs and grilled pizza. Maybe those last two stretch the traditions of Memorial Day a bit.
The chicken kabobs were simply ground chicken flavored with fresh herbs, along with onion, garlic, lemon, and lots of salt and pepper, grilled on wide, sword-shaped skewers. When I made them once before a friend said “oh, you’ve made fresh sausages.” That first time the kabobs stayed put, but this time they wanted to peel themselves off the skewers and lay down on the grill to cook like salty, herby burgers. This was no great disaster, judging by how quickly the party guests snatched them up. But still I’d like to know better how to keep them on the skewers. A friend with some experience in the matter suggested tying them in place, so maybe I’ll start practicing my butcher’s knot.
And for Memorial Day what could be more American than pizza? Cooking pizzas on a grill is quite easy, except for the part that’s always hard: stretching and pulling the dough to make a a thin crust. As usual, mine were fat and oblong, making for pizzas that were bready instead of crackery-crisp. Fortunately, the skilled and versatile Cathy Erway was on hand, and she got the knack of thin crusts down right away.
We’d prepped diligently and so had plenty of toppings: olive oil, canned tomatoes, minced fresh oregano, minced green garlic, chopped spinach, sliced mushrooms, prosciutto, anchovies, Parmesan and mozzarella. The toppings cooked up and melted down quickly on the thin-stretched dough, and the pizzas disappeared as fast as we could cook ‘em.
As for my own skills with stretching dough, well, as with the kabobs it’ll give me something to practice over the summer. I’ll have no problem trying either of them again and again and again. Until then, maybe you’ll have better luck with this recipe for ground chicken kabobs.