Halloween is my favorite holiday, and considering my goals for October's Happiness Project I have lots of spooky recipes coming at you this week! I thought of this one back in December. When it was more appropriate to be reading A Christmas Carol, I was reading Bram Stoker's Dracula (just call me a non-conformist). It has been one of my favorite stories since reading it in 9th grade English class. In the story, Jonathan Harker describes in his diary the food he is eating, including "Robber Steaks". Is it weird that I found Harker's character instantly likable because he described the food on his journey (before all hell breaks loose)?
Here's the passage:
"There are many odd things to put down, and, lest who reads them may fancy that I dined too well before I left Bistritz, let me put down my dinner exactly. I dined on what they call "robber steak"-bits of bacon, onion, and beef, seasoned with red pepper, and strung on sticks, and roasted over the fire, in simple style of the London cat's meat!"
So I tucked the idea of making this a Halloween recipe in my mind until now!
I took some creative liberty with the spice mix by researching spices typically used in Eastern European cuisine. Since I started reading about these spices, I've become fascinated with Eastern European cuisine. My palate typically slants towards Mediterranean cuisine, but I feel very inspired to start incorporating different herbs and spices. Because of the richness of beef, I think you can get away with a lot of spices. For instance, cloves may sound weird, but without the sugar of a baked good cloves add warmth rather than bakery flavors. I also wanted a nice garlicky flavor to scare away the vampires.
I am particular about how I cut up the vegetables and the meat for kebabs. The vegetables tend to take longer than the meat, so I cut the vegetables smaller than the chunks of meat and made sure not to cram too much on the skewer. A little space is needed between each piece of meat and vegetable or they don't cook all the way to the skewer. I like to cut my own steak cubes rather than getting stew meat because the pieces are so irregular and cooking is less even. Also you never know which cut of meat you're getting in stew meat and could be getting something that requires braising, meaning you're going to have chewy kebabs. As far as cooking meat wrapped in bacon, or in this case, a piece of bacon on the kebab, I like to pre-cook it because it will never get crisp otherwise. I think the extra effort is worth it.
As much as I love the silly Halloween foods, I wanted to make something for an elegant Halloween party meal (though I couldn't resist a silly name). However, smaller skewers with just one piece of each item would make great appetizers! What's even better is many of these steps can be done in advance, which is always helpful when you're having a party.
Keep checking in for the next recipe in my Paleo Halloween Dinner series!
6 slices bacon
1 1/2 lb thick-cut steak, cut into 24 cubes (good choices: top sirloin and tenderloin because they're easy to cut into uniform pieces and stay tender)
1/2 tsp dried savory
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground mustard seed
pinch of ground cloves
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, cut into square, leaves separated
1 large red bell pepper, cut into squares
Salt, to taste
Six kebab skewers
1. Par-cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat, about 3 minutes per side. Can be done a day or two ahead; refrigerate until use.
2. In a gallon-sized food storage bag, add steak cubes, savory, thyme, marjoram, paprika, pepper, mustard, cloves, and garlic. Massage the herbs and spices thoroughly into the meat. Allow to marinade 20 minutes at the minimum to overnight.
3. If using wooden skewers, soak 30 minutes in water.
4. Cut each strip of bacon into 4 pieces.
5. Skewer the steak, bacon, onions, and peppers, alternating, with 4 pieces of steak.
6. Skewers can be grilled, approximately 2 minutes per side, or until the outside is lightly charred and the onions are translucent. Alternatively, if you don't have a grill you can preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and roast the skewers until the onions are translucent but the meat is still slightly pink, about 18-20 minutes (Depending on how large your steak pieces are and cut of meat you chose). Broil to create a little charred flavor, watching carefully if using wooden skewers.