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Grilled Guamanian Chicken

Grilled Guamanian Chicken

One of the GrillJunkie team members first introduced us to Guamanian Chicken several years ago. He was taught how to make it from his sister-in-law who is from Guam. Guam is an island territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. When we were first told what the ingredients were in the chicken, we were skeptical. Albeit intriguing, it seemed to be missing sugar or something sweet in the recipe. We were proven seriously wrong…and delightfully so.

guamanian chicken,GrillJunkie,grilling around the worldGuamanian Chicken is very likely one of the most flavorful grilled chicken dishes that you will ever taste. It’s uniqueness stems from the fact that it is created with a sauce or a marinade called finadene. Finadene is pronounced fin-ah-den-ee. Finadene is a simple marinade made with soy sauce, vinegar, fresh lemon and other citrus juices, sliced green onions and hot sauce.

More specifically, in Guam-style cooking, Finadene is the Chamorro sauce used to complement fish, beef, chicken or pork. This treat is made with either a soy sauce, vinegar or lemon base and uses chopped (spicy) boonie peppers, sliced onions, dash of salt and chopped cherry tomatoes if desired. You can adjust the heat by adding red peppers or omitting the hot sauce altogether.

After the GrillJunkie team grilled an enormous platter of Guamanian Chicken, and experimented a bit with some side dishes, we discovered that we like to serve it with fluffy jasmine rice, and a bowl of finadene on the side for drizzling. Easy to make and so delicious! Enjoy!

Overview of Guamanian Cuisine History

The local islanders from the Pacific island of Guam are proud of their rich history, cultural heritage, traditions as well as their unique cuisine. Presently, Guam is a cosmopolitan society that reflects the cultures of its original Chamorro ancestors who were influenced by the Spanish, Portuguese, European, American, Malaysian and Micronesian cultures.

Among the most popular Guamanian dishes are: Chicken Kelaguen or chopped barbecued or grilled Chicken flavored with lemon juice, chopped onions, chopped (spicy) boonie peppers, chopped green onions, grated fresh coconut and salt; and Chamorro Red Rice or glutenous short grain rice cooked with onions, green peas, salt and achiote water or water soaked in annato seeds.guam

In addition, other Guam delicacies include: morcizas or Chicken neck stuffed with Chicken meat, pepper leaves, garlic, and Onion; Kadon Octopus or Octopus stewed in coconut milk with sweet peppers and onions; Eskabeche or freshly fried fish adorned in a soy sauce and vinegar and local vegetable mixture and; Shrimp Kelaguen which means chopped uncooked shrimp cooked with lemon juice and mixed with chopped onions, shredded fresh coconut and chopped (spicy) boonie peppers.

In our opinion, Guamanian cuisine is a real art. In Guamanian cuisine people prove their skills in preparing different kinds of food, from making coconut candies, baking bread, to cooking a wide variety of rice and meat dishes. Obviously, in Guamanian cuisine there can be found lots of traditional foods, such as ahu or grated coconut boiled in sugar water; sweet tuba which is a drink prepared from the first sap of the young coconut tree; lumpia which consists of vegetable egg roll dipped in garlic sauce. Some Guamanian meat dishes include short ribs and Chicken kebabs. For breakfast, Guamanian people usually eat fresh fruit, especially mango.

Grilled Guamanian Chicken Ingredients:

Recipe for 16 pieces, recipe can be halved for less

Guamanian Chicken Marinade

  • 2 whole cut up chickens with skin on (4 breasts, 4 legs, 4 thighs, 4 wings)
  • Large 1.25 quart bottle of Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce
  • 12 onces of either beer, ginger ale, 7-up, orange, coconut or pineapple soda
  • 3 oranges, unpeeled and sliced 1/4 inch
  • 3 lemons, unpeeled and sliced 1/4 inchguamanian chicken,GrillJunkie,grilling around the world
  • 3 limes unpeeled and sliced 1/4 inch
  • 1 small 6 or 8 oz can pineapple with juice (optional)
  • 3 large onions, unpeeled and sliced 1/4 inch rings)
  • 4-6 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1-2 tablespoons grated ginger (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper per individual taste

Finadene Sauce

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup green onions
  • 1 1/2 tsp hot sauce

Red Rice

  • 2 12 cups jasmine rice
  • 2 tbsp. ground annatto seeds

Grilled Guamanian Chicken – Preparation

  1. Grab a large bowl and add chicken. Whisk together the entire ingredient list (not the finadene sauce yet). Add to chicken, toss well to coat, cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for about 4 hours or overnight. Turn chicken occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, make the finadene sauce by whisking all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Put in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. guamanian chickenAbout 20-30 minutes prior to grilling the chicken make the red rice by combining rice, annatto, and 5 cups water in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until rice is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep rice warm.
  4. Now that the chicken has marinated, throw away the marinade… Don’t even think about reusing it or drizzling it on the rice. Fire up your grill or barbeque. Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, heat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat.)
  5. Cook chicken, turning, until browned, about 8 minutes. To ensure safety and that unique texture, be sure ti grill chicken on medium to medium high heat until the juices run clear or the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 180° F.
  6. Remove chicken from grill, let rest 5 minutes and serve with rice and finadene sauce. Makes about 6 servings.


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What are your thoughts on this Healthy Grilling Recipes & Tips post? What Fires YOU Up? We welcome your comments, healthy debate, and the inevitable disagreement. Leave a reply or comment. It’s OK. Bring it on!

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Healthy Grilling Recipes & Tips

Healthy Grilling Recipes & Tips

As the GrillJunkie team fires up a new year and attempts to shed a few pounds from a bit of overindulgence during the holidays, we’ve pulled together some great Healthy Grilling Recipes and tips that we hope you enjoy. It is no secret that we fire up the grill because it is our addiction, but mostly we grill and BBQ because it is fun and produces food drenched in unique flavors as compared to most other methods of cooking. You’ll find that most anything that hits the grill is going to be delicious and the fact that there are so many options for seasonings and ingredients to enjoy with family and friends that the possibilities are endless. But grilling is both art and science. If done improperly, or irresponsibly for that matter, you could be creating undercooked or overcooked meals. As such we lay out a few Healthy Grilling Recipes and tips that address some recent research on safe and flavorful grilling. Try some of these ideas for great food grilled healthy.

healthy grilling recipesThere are countless ways you can turn your grilling into not only a flavorful and fun way to cook, but also into a healthy way to eat. By choosing foods that are low in fat, high in nutrients and full of flavor you can create great meals that are also healthy. By introducing marinades into your grilling routine not only adds extra flavor but also reduces the formation of cancer causing substances on foods. As an example, using a marinade containing olive oil and/or citrus juice can reduce the formation of these chemicals by as much as 99%. As an added benefit, marinades tenderize meats which creates an easier to grill and much better meal.

As of late, there has been a lot of discussion and research related to, some would say even targeting, grilling and cancer. That is one of our main inspirations for writing about Healthy Grilling Recipes & Tips. While the risk is real as with any foods that are not prepared correctly, undercook, overcooked or charred, keep this in mind, there are some simple things you can do to greatly reduce the cancer risk. The two primary substances, for those interested are: Heterocyclic Amines (HCA) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH). They are known cancer causing agents so you need to reduce their formation as much as you can. Simply explained, these chemicals are formed by putting food, primarily meats in direct contact with intense heat and flame.  Now grilling isn’t the only cooking method that may cause these agents, it’s really a matter of how to grill and cook your food properly, and as such there isn’t a reason for you to give up on your grill.Basil-Swee-Basil-and-Tomato1

In recent years, scientists at the Food Safety Consortium project at Kansas State University have discovered that herbs of the Lamiaceae family (Basil, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, and Sage) used in marinades reduced HCA formation dramatically. This is very good news and an excellent reason to grill with more flavor. Specifically, these herbal antioxidants reduce the formation of undesirable free radicals when meat hits heat.

HCAs and PAHs are formed mostly from fat. Either by fat being heated to extreme temperatures or by the smoke created by fat burning. For the most part this applies to meat fats and not just the grease and fat from what you are cooking but the build up from the bottom of your grill. To reduce the risks follow these basic tips:

  • Use marinades based citrus juices and/or olive oils. This is the number one way to stay safe.
  • Avoid flare-ups. Flare-ups burn foods and this increase HCA formation.
  • Keep your grill clean. A clean grill not only cooks better but it is safer in may ways. See our post on cleaning a grill.
  • Trim excess fats. A little fat can add a lot of flavor so keep it to a minimum.
  • Don’t overcook foods. The charred bits on foods are the largest sources of PAHs and HCAs so if you have charred sections of meat cut them off.
  • Use herbs like Basil, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, and Sage to add flavor and reduce HCA formation in foods.

If you follow these Healthy Grilling Tips not only will you greatly reduce the risk of these cancer agents but you will reduce the fat in meats that you grill. Of course grilling is a superb way to reduce fat, but these tips from the GrillJunkie team take it even farther. If you purchase lean cuts, use light marinades and serve up your grilled foods with proportionate fruits and vegetables then you will really be grilling healthy. We hope you enjoy our Healthy Grilling Recipes & Tips!

 Healthy Grilling Recipes: Grilled Caprese Chicken

This is a Caprese lovers treat. Marinated with the unmistakably earthy taste and aroma of basil and citrus-drenched lemon, the chicken is taken to the grill, then topped with fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and a balsamic reduction. A truly healthy and delicious meal for any day of the week.healthy grilling recipes, grilled caprese chicken

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup/80 mL olive oil
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 large leaves of basil
  • 1 teaspoon/5 mL sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon/1.25 mL white pepper
  • 3/4 cup/180 mL balsamic vinegar
  • 4 slices of mozzarella cheese, 1/2 inch thick
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 leaves basil, chopped for garnish

Prep Time:20 minutes – Cook Time:22 minutes – Total Time:42 minutes – Yield: Serves 4


  1. Place olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, basil, salt, and white pepper in blender or food processor. Blend until mixture is pureed. Place chicken breasts in resealable plastic bag, pour mixture over chicken, making sure that each piece is coated well. Seal bag and place into refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  2. While chicken in marinating, make the balsamic reduction. Place vinegar into a saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 8-10 minutes. The balsamic reduction should have a thick, syrupy consistency. Once this is achieved, remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Preheat grill for medium heat. Remove chicken from bag and place onto grill. Cook for 8-10 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Toward the end of the cooking time, place a slice of mozzarella and 1-2 slices of tomato on each breast. Cook for 2 additional minutes. Chicken is done once it reaches an internal temperature of 165° F. Remove from heat and garnish with reduced balsamic and chopped basil leaves before serving.

Sage & Cumin Pork Tenderloin: Healthy Grilling Recipes

A unique blend of sage, cumin, and other spices are used in this recipe. Although we continue the grilling versus charcoal debate, we recommend grilling this recipe over charcoal, but gas works just as well. If desired, double the marinade recipe and set half aside for brushing onto the pork while it’s cooking.

healthy grilling grilled pork tenderloin healthy recipes for the grillIngredients

    • 2 medium sized pork tenderloins
    • 1/3 cup/80 mL olive oil
    • 1 shallot, chopped
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tablespoons/30 mL white cooking wine
    • 3 leaves of fresh sage
    • 1 teaspoon/5 mL cumin
    • 1 teaspoon/5 mL salt
    • 1 teaspoon/5 mL paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon/1.25 mL white pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon/1.25 mL cayenne pepper (optional)

Prep Time:10 minutes – Cook Time:45 minutes – Total Time:55 minutes – Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  1. In blender or food processor, blend marinade ingredients. Place tenderloins into resealable plastic bag. Pour mixture onto pork, making sure it is well coated (this will create a very thick marinade), seal bags and place into refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  2. Prepare charcoal grill or if using gas, preheat to medium. Remove tenderloins from bag and place onto grill. Cook, turning occasionally, for 35-45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165° F.
  3. Remove from heat, let rest for 5 minutes, slice into medallions and serve.

In addition to the Healthy Grilling Recipes we list above, try our Grilled Tuna Kebabs, Luscious Grilled Pears and Havarti and our Grilled Pineapple Upside Down Cake!

For you steak lovers, we encourage you to read the article entitled “31 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Steak“. We believe it will Fire You Up!

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What are your thoughts on this Healthy Grilling Recipes & Tips post? What Fires YOU Up? We welcome your comments, healthy debate, and the inevitable disagreement. Leave a reply or comment. It’s OK. Bring it on!

Don’t want to miss a GrillJunkie blog post? Join our Newsletter Club, subscribe to our RSS list or our YouTube Channel!

The Holy Cow 3 CheeseBurger Recipe

The Holy Cow 3 CheeseBurger Recipe

Are you ready to fire up the grill and crank out a Holy Masterpiece of flavor with the Holy Cow 3 Cheeseburger Recipe? As you may or may not be aware, the GrillJunkie team has published a cookbook solely dedicated to the iconic and beloved hamburger. Chock filled with recipes, techniques as well as a history of GJA-250x600_2the hamburger, we are proud to now have this book available to the public in book eBook and Hardcover form!. Below is one of our most cherished recipes from the GrillJunkie Burger a Day Cookbook.

This cheeseburger recipe worships the trinity of “holy” Swiss cheese, goat cheese and Parmesan‐Reggiano laid on a bed of bittersweet basil will have them praising the grilling gods of which you will be their most adored.

Ingredients: Holy Cow 3 CheeseBurger Recipe

  • 1 & 1/2 pounds ground Chuck ‐ 80 % lean
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt or Kosher saltHoly Cow 3 Chesseburger recipe
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons of light olive or canola oil
  • 4 slices of Swiss or Gruyere cheese
  • 4 slices of goat cheese ‐ round and thickly sliced to 1/2 inch each
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan‐Reggiano cheese
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato ‐ thickly sliced to 1/2 inch each
  • 1 handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 4 hamburger buns or soft Kaiser rolls, split


3 cheeseburger recipe

Preparation: Holy Cow 3 CheeseBurger Recipe

  1. In a large bowl, gently divide the meat into four equal portions. Each patty should consist of approximately 6 ounces of ground meat.
  2. Carefully and loosely form each divided portion into a patty that is ¾ ‐1 inch thick and about 4 & 1/2 inches in diameter being careful to not overwork the meat. Make a deep depression in the center of each of the meat patties with your thumb.
  3. Once formed, place patties on a clean plate, sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper, cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Prepare the grill to medium‐high heat and coat grill grates with cooking oil so as to avoid patties from sticking.
  5. Remove patties from refrigeration, brush the burgers with light olive or canola oil, and place the patties on the hot grill grates.
  6. Grill and sear patties over medium‐high heat for 4‐5 minutes per side, or to desired doneness being sure they are cooked through and have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F during the last minute of grilling, top each burger with a slice of Swiss, a tomato slice, then the goat cheese topped off with some Parmesan‐Reggiano. Close the cover or create a heat “tent” by covering each burger loosely with aluminum foil. Remove grilled patties from grill and let them rest for 2‐3 minutes.
  7. American-Flag-Grilled-Burger-via-GrillJunkieTo serve, place some basil leaves on the bottom halves of each bun, stack a burger patty on top, and cover with upper buns. Add a few bacon strips to each and you have an entirely new burger.


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What are your thoughts on this Grilled CheeseBurger Recipe? What Fires YOU Up? We welcome your comments, healthy debate, and the inevitable disagreement. Leave a reply or comment. It’s OK. Bring it on!

Don’t want to miss a GrillJunkie blog post? Join our Newsletter Club, subscribe to our RSS list or our YouTube Channel!

How to Smoke a Turkey on a Grill

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how to smoke a turkey

How to Smoke a Turkey on a Grill

It’s no secret that the GrillJunkie team loves to grill. in fact it’s “What Fires Us Up!” In this blog post the team explains that you don’t need any fancy equipment to smoke a turkey.

Traditional roast turkey is great, don’t get us wrong. But there’s one challenge with having a big, delicious bird take up your whole oven on Thanksgiving Day: It takes up your entire oven on Thanksgiving Day.

This is our definitive guide to getting a great smoked turkey, using either a gas or charcoal grill. We love smoking turkeys because the flavor is awesome, but also because it frees up valuable oven space on what tends to be a hectic day.

But first, let’s go over some points that are important to keep in mind when making a perfect smoked turkey.

Grilled Turkey Recipes! We don't need no stinkin' ovens!

Grilled Turkey Recipes! We don’t need no stinkin’ ovens!

1. Turkeys should not be smoked in a roasting pan (or even on a rack in the roasting pan), and especially should not be roasted while resting in liquid. This will result in a soggy chicken. Our solution is to smoke the turkey directly on the grill grates, with a roasting pan filled with one inch of water underneath the grates about 3 to 4 inches from the meat. This will keep the cooking environment moist, but let the turkey crisp evenly on the outside.

2. Turkeys should not be trussed. Dark meat tastes best at 175°F, and breast is best at 165°F; trussing means that the whole bird will reach the same temperature all around, which is not what we want. Allowing the turkey to lay naturally will let each section reach the optimal temperature at the same time.

 3. Smoked turkeys should be minimally stuffed, and only with aromatics, to ensure proper airflow and even heating. The peel of citrus fruit is perfect, while the a whole lemon would just cool the turkey down too much. Many items in the cavity will result in a soggy turkey.

4. Mild smoking woods (alder, apple, or cherry) are best with poultry. A little goes a long way. The GrillJunkie team uses a combination of chunks and chips, which we’ll explain later.

5. Turkeys should be brined overnight, coated with fat only initially, and minimally seasoned. Brining keeps the turkey from drying out during the smoking process. Basting the turkey only results in soggy skin, so it’s best to only add fat at the beginning of your cooking adventure. Lastly, overly seasoning the skin just makes inedible skin. Let the brine and aromatics add flavor.

6. Turkeys should not be carved from the carcass. Instead, the bird should be deconstructed and each piece can be carved individually.

How to Smoke Turkey on a Grill

Smoked Turkey and Gravy Serves 6-8, depending on the size of the turkey

  • 1 quart water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup honey
  • A bunch of ice cubes
  • 1 whole thawed turkey, 10 to 15 pounds, neck and giblets removed and set aside
  • 1 large handful wood chips (alder, apple, or cherry wood)
  • 2 to 3 wood chunks (alder, apple, or cherry wood)
  • Peel of 1 lemon or orange
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme, plus pinch for gravy
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons melted ghee (or 1 tablespoon melted butter plus 2 tablespoons olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ½ tablespoons of flour (or rice flour or coconut flour)

Pour 1 quart of water into your largest stockpot, then add the kosher salt and honey. Heat the stockpot on high heat and stir everything together with a wooden spoon until the salt and honey are dissolved. Remove from heat, pour in a bunch of ice and stir everything around until the ice melts and the water turns cold, or at least room temperature. Add the turkey to the stockpot and fill with cold water until the turkey is fully submerged in the brine. Cover the stockpot and put it in the fridge (or a cold basement, between 32°F to 40°F ) overnight, up to 12 hours.

The next day, remove the turkey from the brine and dry inside and out with paper towels. Place it on a wire rack on a baking sheet to air dry for 30 minutes while you prepare your woods and aromatics. If you have room in the fridge for the baking sheet and turkey, great, otherwise you can leave it out at room temperature.

how to smoke a turkeyWhile the turkey dries, prepare your smoking woods. In two small aluminum pans, place one handful of wood chips and a few wood chunks. Fill the pan that has the chips with about ½ inch of water. This will let the chunks catch fire and smoke first, and by the time the chunks are nearly done smoking, the water will have evaporated out of the wood chips pan and the chips will start smoking. This way, you’ll get constant smoking without having to add chips. We would either use a combination of alder and a fruit wood, or stick with one fruit wood.

Place the small aluminum pans under the grill grates, on whatever side of the grill you’re going to keep hot (my burners run horizontally, some run vertically; adjust as needed). On the cool side of the grill, place a large aluminum pan under the grill grates and fill with 1 inch water. This water will keep the grill moist but also catch the turkey drippings and can be used to make gravy afterwards (more on that later).

If you’re using a charcoal grill, the setup will be similar: your charcoal on one side and the turkey and drip pan on the other. You’ll want to use only wood chunks, and add more chunks and charcoal about halfway through cooking. (We’ll let you know when.)

Prepare your aromatics (citrus peel, herbs, onion, and garlic) for stuffing. Lemon or orange rind is better than actual fruit pieces, because you’ll get the aroma without the added liquid inside the bird, which can mess up your cooking times.

Once the turkey has air-dried, stuff it with the aromatics, making sure there is plenty of extra room. If it’s a tight squeeze, don’t use all of the onion. Brush the turkey all over with melted ghee, starting with the underside of the turkey. It’ll start to harden as you brush it on, which is fine. Get every nook and cranny you can. Season all over with kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper.

Heat your grill on high heat for 10 minutes, until the wood chunks start to smoke. Turn off all the burners but one, leaving it on high. Adjust the heat as needed to get to a stable 325°Char-Broil Kettleman Charcoal Grill

Once the temperature is stable, put the turkey on the grill and cover each wing tip with tin foil. This helps to prevent the wing tips from overcooking too quickly. Cover and smoke for one hour.

As it smokes, take the turkey neck and gizzard (not the liver) and about 10 peppercorns and simmer them in a quart of water on low, which we’ll use to make the gravy later.

After an hour, carefully pick up and rotate the turkey 180 degrees, so that its other side is now facing the hot side of the grill. Tilt the turkey towards its backside and drain out any collected liquid into the pan underneath it. Remove the tin foil from the wing tips. Cover and smoke for another 45 minutes. If you’re using a charcoal grill, this is a good time to add more charcoal or wood chunks if needed.

After the turkey has been smoking for 1 hour and 45 minutes, open the grill and again pour out any of the turkey’s collected liquid into the pan underneath it. Check the breast and thigh temperatures with an instant-read thermometer. You want the breasts to register 160F and the thighs to register 170°F (they’ll climb another 5 degrees as the turkey rests). If it’s ready, pull it off the grill. If it’s not there yet, cover and continue to smoke, checking every 10 to 15 minutes. For reference, the 12-pound turkey in these photos took almost exactly 2 hours.

Once finished, place the turkey on a wire rack over a baking sheet to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving, but up to 45 minutes. Don’t cover it with tin foil, unless you want soggy skin (you don’t).

Once your grill has cooled a bit, carefully remove the grill grates and take out the drip pan. Pour the liquid into a fat separator, then pour the liquid (minus the fat, naturally) in with the turkey neck/gizzard broth. Fish out the neck, gizzard, and peppercorns and continue to keep warm on low heat.

how to smoke a turkeyTo carve the turkey, remove each section individually — the breasts, thighs, drumsticks, wings, and drummettes. Then you can chop up the turkey as you see fit. I like to slice the breasts against the grain into ½-inch slices, and shave the thigh meat from the thigh bone. Be sure take any extra breast meat scraps you can pull off the carcass and chop it up finely to put in the gravy broth.

To make the gravy, make a roux by melting 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan and stirring in 2 ½ tablespoons of flour (or rice flour for gluten-free, coconut flour for Paleo). Toast for a couple minutes until golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir the roux into the gravy broth and season with a pinch of thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on medium to low heat until thickened, about five minutes.

What are your thoughts? What Fires You Up?

We welcome your comments, healthy debate, and the inevitable disagreement. Leave a reply or comment. It’s OK. Grill Junkie logoBring it on!

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Secrets for Perfect Shish Kebabs

The Kebab is King

Secrets for Perfect Shish Kebabs

Whether you call them kebabs, kabobs, or kebaps, there’s no question that meat on a stick is one summertime barbeque staple that is easy to fall in love with. Sadly, kebabs are easy to ruin, in either the preparation or the grilling process.

Originally of Turkish descent, the kebab has made its way around the world and has variations originating from nearly every continent.1 Kebabs typically include marinated or seasoned pieces of cubed, ground, or sliced meat interspersed with vegetables. Once threaded onto skewers, kebabs are usually cooked on the grill. While the original Turkish shish kebab used lamb meat, now chicken, beef, vegetables, and even tofu are common.

Before your next weekend get-together, read these tips to avoid kebab chaos and to become the king or queen of skewered meat.

Perfect Shish Kebabs – Shopping

Making the perfect kebab begins at the grocery store. While shopping, you need to pay close attention to two main items: the meat and the skewers.

Grilling Perfect Kebabs - Choose the right cut of meat

Perfect Shish Kebabs – Invest in Good Skewers

If you plan to make kebabs often, invest in stainless steel skewers. They are sturdier, will last forever, and are easier to handle over the flame than are other options. Avoid round metal skewers – when you try to flip them, the meat will spin on the skewer, making it impossible to cook the meat evenly on all sides. Instead, choose single-pronged flat metal skewers, which are much easier to flip.

In a pinch, classic bamboo skewers work fine. Before you thread food on them, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent them from burning on the grill. Also lightly cover them with nonstick cooking spray before loading on the meat and veggies for easier removal after grilling.

If you want to get fancy, you can also use herbs as a skewer. The woody stalks of rosemary are great for skewering meats, and they add a ton of flavor.


Trim and cut the protein for even cook time.

For properly cooked kebabs, uniform pieces of meat are essential. The perfect size is a 1-to 1.5-inch cube – big enough to hold up when skewered but small enough to cook through quickly. For meats that aren’t easily cubed (such as chicken thighs or skirt steak), cut into 1-inch wide strips and thread onto the skewer, or fold the strips in half to create a cube-like shape.2

Choose the right marinade and turn on the timer.

Kebab ingredients are often marinated to infuse additional flavor. The best thing about marinades is that you can create nearly any flavor profile by varying the ingredients you use. Marinades have three main ingredients: oil or fat, acid, and flavorings. Here are a few good combinations, each of which will marinade two to three pounds of meat.

  • Thai: In a blender or food processor, combine ½ cup canola oil, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon lime juice, ½ bunch cilantro, 2 cloves of garlic, and 2 tablespoons palm or brown sugar. Pulse until smooth.
  • Chinese: In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 clove of garlic (crushed), 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, and two chopped scallions. Mix until combined.
  • Greek: In a small bowl, mix together the juice from four lemons, 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 5 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1½ tablespoons dried), 2 teaspoons kosher salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, and 4 garlic cloves (grated).
  • Turkish: In a small bowl, combine 1½ tablespoons Aleppo pepper, 1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 6 cloves of garlic (grated), and the juice from one lemon. Mix until seasonings are evenly distributed.

It’s a common misconception that the longer the meat sits in the marinade, the better. That’s not always the case: Depending on the meat and the marinade’s ingredients, letting the meat sit for too long can actually toughen it. Acidic marinades can also “cook” the meat if soaked for too long. The length of time you marinade can make or break the kebab.
Grilling Perfect Kebabs - Marinade Times
Choose the right produce.

Not all fruits and veggies are created equal when it comes to kebabs. Choose vegetables that will complement the flavors of the meat and marinades and – if you stack the same skewer with both meat and veggies – that take the same amount of time to cook as the meat does.3 Bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, pineapple, mango, apples, and peaches are just a few of the items that serve kebabs well. To prepare them, cut into chunks about equal in size to your protein. In addition to produce that you can add to skewers raw, you can also use heartier vegetables such as new potatoes or corn on the cob – boil these ahead of time so they are already cooked through.

Assemble your skewers with authority.

Now comes the most important (and controversial) step – loading the skewers. There are two camps when it comes to kebabs: those who like meat and vegetables on the same skewers and those who prefer to separate the ingredients for all-meat skewers and vegetable-only skewers. There are benefits to both methods. When you comingle ingredients, the vegetables take on more flavor, and you have a complete meal on one skewer. But combining both on the same stick makes it hard to cook each just right. When you separate the ingredients, you can easily cook the meat and veggies to perfection, but you may want to remove all the ingredients from the skewers to serve each person equal portions of meat and veggies. It’s really a matter of preference.

For skewers that hold both meat and vegetables, make sure to choose ingredients with roughly the same cooking time. Otherwise, some ingredients may burn while others remain undercooked.4 For example: Don’t pair cherry tomatoes with chicken, which takes longer to cook than some other meats. Instead, pair delicate veggies such as tomatoes with a quick-cooking protein, such as fish or shrimp.

For circular or strangely shaped items, including mushrooms and shrimp, two skewers per kebab make grilling more manageable.

Grilling Perfect Kebabs - Different Kebab Combinations

Perfect Shish Kebabs – Cooking

Master the grill (indoors or out).

In terms of flavor, a charcoal grill can’t be beat. But if that’s not an option, a gas grill or even a grill pan used indoors can achieve a similar flavor and char. Grill kebabs over direct medium-high heat. If there’s space on your grill top, keep the fire to one side of the grates so one area of the grill maintains indirect heat. This way, if anything begins to burn, it’s easy to move skewers out of the fire to continue cooking without charring.5

Fire up the broiler.

No grill available? Use an oven broiler for a similar effect. The most important tip for this cooking method is to keep kebabs from steaming in the liquid that they release as they cook. To prevent this, raise kebabs off the cooking sheet. Set them on a baking rack on top of the baking sheet instead.

Perfect Shish Kebabs – Serving

While eating pieces right off the skewer is completely appropriate, there are a few fancier ways to serve kebabs. You could choose the traditional way: served over a bed of rice pilaf with pita and vegetables or salad on the side.6 Or you could stuff the meat inside a pita, like a gyro or pita pocket sandwich. Whichever way you choose, kebabs are a quick and easy lunch or dinner with endless variations.