Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ham kebabs and barbecue crackers

Ever since Virtual Potluck teamed up with Savory Spice Shop, I've been playing with their spice mixes. I mean, I'm always using spices, but lately I've been featuring them in recipes rather than just tossing them in..

First up was the Brown Sugar & Spice Honey Ham Rub. I happened to have a bone-in ham, and I decided to do something a little different. Kebabs.

See, I like the idea of kebabs, but the execution is usually far from perfect. Chunks of meat on a stick don't cook evenly, and if you happen to add anything else to the kebabs, for sure you end up with a overcooked, undercooked and burned bits .

But my ham had the advantage that it was already cooked, so I didn't need to worry about cooking it through - I just wanted to get some grill marks on it and warm it up. I made it simple, but oh, boy was it good!

The rub was sweet, and yes, it was spicy. It sort of reminded me of chai spices (which means I'll probably be using it in cookies soon) and it added great flavor to the ham, and the charred bits where from the grill added smokiness. I

 gotta tell you, a ham is a big hunk of meat for two people. It helps if you can find ways to make it different. This is a great way to do it, and a great option for a barbecue. Something unexpected next to the cole slaw.

If you don't have a Savory Spice shop in your neighborhood, they sell their spices online, so you can order whatever you need.

Honey Spice Ham Kebabs

  • 1 thick slice from a bone-in ham or a ham steak, cut in large cubes
  • 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar & Spice Honey Ham Rub (or to taste)
  • Pineapple, mango, or stone fruit, cut in similar-sized chunks (optional)

Sprinkle the rub on the ham cubes and thread them onto skewers. (If you're using wooden skewers, soak them in water ahead of time, so they won't burn on the grill.) You can thread the fruit between the ham, or put the fruit on separate skewers.

Grill the skewers on a grill or on a grill pan just long enough to get grill marks on the meat and to warm it through. Serve warm.

And now for a snack

Memory is a strange thing. When I got the Pearl Street Plank Rub I kept sniffing it and thinking that it reminded me of something. But I couldn't quite grasp that vague memory.

Finally - after I used the mix in a couple recipes - the fog cleared and I realized that the elusive memory was all about barbecue potato chips. Not the ones you can get today, but the ones I grew up with.

I didn't want to make potato chips, but I did want a snack. So I made crackers. I love crackers. Good crackers are a worthy munchie all alone, and they're a great canvas for other flavors.

Barbecue Crackers

1 cup (4 1/2 ounces ) bread flour
1 cup (2 1/4 ounces) potato flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Pearl Street Plank Rub
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup cold water

Put the bread flour, potato flakes, salt, Pearl Street Plank Rub, yeast, and olive oil in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.

With the food processor running, add the water through the feed tube as fast as the flour can absorb it. Process until the dough forms a ball, and keep processing until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 30 minutes.

Flour your work surface, line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Turn the dough out, knead it briefly, and divide it in half. Roll the first half as thinly as possible - and it can be rolled very thinly - and put it on one of the prepared baking sheets. Cut it into cracker-sized squares with a pastry cutter, pizza cutter, or sharp knife.

Prepare the second half of the dough the same way.

Bake at 350 degrees until the crackers are browned and crisp, about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the crackers. If the crackers are cooking unevenly, you can pick off the ones that are crisp and return the rest to the oven to continue cooking - you want to make sure they're cooked and crisp all the way through.

If the crackers are browning too much and still aren't crisp, lower the heat to 250 degrees and continue cooking.

Let the cracker cool completely before storing.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.