Spicy pork ke­babs can be fast enough for a week­night

Merced Sun-Star - - Community - BY MELISSA CLARK

There are few meals more pri­mally sat­is­fy­ing than charred meat on a stick. Whether turned on a spit or threaded onto a skewer, the meat browns at the edges and sucks up the smoke, emerg­ing, at its best, crisp, ten­der and very juicy, to be sea­soned with salt and eaten with great rel­ish.

Any kind of meat works, but one of the best and most ver­sa­tile is brawny pork shoul­der (also called pork butt for rea­sons hav­ing to do with ar­chaic lan­guage, not anatomy).

It’s mar­bled with white veins of col­la­gen and fat, and, if you cook it low and slow for many hours, it will turn spoon­ably soft, col­laps­ing into a pile when you touch it. (Think pulled pork, drenched in sticky, spicy sauce and scooped onto a fluffy roll.)

If you cook it fast and hot, just un­til the out­side singes but the in­side stays just a lit­tle pink, you’ll get firmer meat that’s just as suc­cu­lent, if slightly chewier. And this is how it goes with these pork ke­babs, sea­soned with cumin, fen­nel, co­rian­der and plenty of gar­lic and chile.

These ke­babs are easy to make and fast enough for a week­night. You can mar­i­nate the pork for as lit­tle as 30 min­utes or up to 24 hours.

Best yet, ev­ery­thing for the mari­nade is thrown in the blender, mean­ing you don’t have to chop. Nor do the spices need toast­ing or grind­ing. The grill takes care of the toast­ing, and the blender bruises them enough to re­lease their fla­vor with­out elim­i­nat­ing their crunchy tex­ture.

If pork isn’t on your menu, the mari­nade works with any chunks of

meat (chicken thighs, beef, lamb). You can even try it on dense fish like sword­fish or salmon. Just watch care­fully so noth­ing dries out. High, di­rect heat is your friend.

And if you’re grill-less, you can broil the meat, in which case you don’t even need to thread the pieces on skew­ers. Lay the meat out on a rimmed bak­ing sheet, and flip it half­way through cook­ing.

Be sure to gar­nish with slices of onion and herbs. Their bright fresh­ness is a fine way to high­light the smoky depths of the char.

TARA DONNE NYT

Whole spices, green chile and gar­lic in­fuse the pork for these spicy ke­babs, but the mari­nade can also work on just about any­thing.

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