When spring finally comes and snow begins melting in fields, many Russians spend weekends and holidays in the countryside and even in city parks while cooking meat or poultry on coals – shashlik (Russian shish kebab).
There is hardly any other tradition that brings all Russians together.
The origin of shashlik
The name “shashlik” originated from southern dialects of Russia. However, spit-fired meat roasted on coals has been known since the beginning of time.
The Caucasians prepare shashlik with the meat made of their live stock.
Most Russians cannot get such fresh meat to cook shashlik, though. Perhaps this fact explains the new Russian recipe of shashlik, which is made of marinated meat or poultry. Marinade sauce (wine, vinegar, fermented milk products, etc.) makes meat tender and reduces its cooking time.
My personal recipe of shashlik
Take a chilled turkey breast or pork fillet. Cut meat or poultry into 5 cm long cubes.
Put meat (poultry) into a plastic bag for food storage.
Cover 1 kg of meat (poultry) with ½ l of Russian kefir. Do not use yoghurt as you need acid environment.
Add ground black pepper, drying basil and salt to your taste.
Tie up your bag, stir up its contents and put the bag into the trunk.
While you are going to the countryside, meat will thoroughly marinate and you will be able to cook it on coals right away. The marinating process will take no less than 3 hours if the temperature is 20ºC. The warmer it is, the less time it will take to marinate meat, but the minimum time is 1.5 hours.
If you properly marinate your shashlik, you will be able to cook it on coals in few minutes. You just need to get your timing right due to the type of your charcoal grill and your favorite range of meat cooking – from rare to well-done.
By all means the shashlik cooked to this recipe will melt in your mouth.
It is better not to use fatty meat. Fat will drop on coals and while burning it will evolve harmful substances.
Do not forget to turn over spits with meat. Otherwise meat will harden instead of roast. We do not want this to happen, do we?
The space between coals and shashlik should be small (so it will be hard to hold a hand there), but not too small to burn your meat.
Even if you are not a meat lover, the flavor of shashlik can surely turn you crazy!