Season 17, Episode 21 Recap: How to Make the Best Shrimp and Vegetable Skewers

Plus, Jack Bishop talks Greek yogurt, and Dan Souza makes Persian-style rice.

Published May 29, 2017.

This episode of America’s Test Kitchen opens with hosts Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin Davison discussing the frequent pitfalls of shrimp and vegetable kebabs (chief among them being that the shrimp and vegetables cook at different rates, leading to unevenly cooked kebabs). Next, Jack Bishop challenges Bridget to a taste test of Greek yogurt, and then Dan Souza shows Julia how to cook the traditional Persian rice dish chelow

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"Mediterranean Grill"

In this episode of America's Test Kitchen, Bridget and Julia make shrimp and vegetable skewers, Jack talks Greek yogurt, and Dan makes the traditional Persian rice dish known as chelow.   
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Five Takeaways from the Episode

1. When Making Shrimp Skewers, Use Jumbo Shrimp: The bigger the shrimp, the longer they can stay on the grill. The longer they can stay on the grill, the better the grill color (and therefore the better the flavor). And make sure to devein the shrimp before cooking—if you skip this step, you’ll wind up with a shrimp that’s a little bitter.

2. Skip the Spice Rubs and Marinades and Brine the Shrimp Instead: Dissolve two tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of salt with water, add your shrimp, and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Why add sugar to your brine? The sugar’s sweetness will help reinforce the shrimp’s sweet flavor, and will also help them brown a little better on the grill.

3. Parcook Your Vegetables Before Adding Them to the Skewer: Certain vegetables—scallions, for example—will cook at the same rate as the shrimp, but others, like red bell peppers and cremini mushrooms, will take a bit longer. To avoid a skewer with undercooked peppers and mushrooms, use your microwave to your advantage and parcook the vegetables before they hit the grill.

4. The Difference Between Greek Yogurt and the Yogurt We’re All Used to Is in the Whey: Unlike the more watery stuff traditionally found in American supermarkets, Greek yogurt is drained of its whey. This results in a yogurt that’s thick and creamy rather than thin and watery. Buyer beware, though: not all companies claiming to sell Greek yogurt are doing it the old-fashioned way—instead of draining all the whey, they’ll add pectin to the yogurt to make it appear more firm. Why not drain all the whey? Because to get an end product with the consistency of true Greek yogurt, it takes four times as much milk. It’s more cost-effective for yogurt producers to use pectin instead of draining all the whey. That said, some yogurt producers still do it the right whey—er, way.

5. Soaking the Rice when Making Chelow Is Important: But we found that you don’t have to soak it overnight, like most recipes call for. Instead of using cold water, we pour four cups of hot tap water and a tablespoon of salt into a bowl with the rice, stir it all together, and soak for just 15 minutes. In this case: hot water good; cold water bad.

Quote of the Week: “Jack is here to walk me through all the ups and downs of our recent tasting of whole-milk Greek yogurt. Or as they call it in Greece: yogurt.” —Bridget Lancaster, before discussing the difference between the yogurt we’re used to in America, and the thick, creamy stuff that hails from Greece

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