Russian grilling and barbecue can be summarized in one word — shashlik. In Russian speaking countries, shashlik (or the plural shashliki) is used both as a noun and as a verb. Shashlik literally means skewered meat. Going for shashliki often refers to an outdoor grilling party or get-together. It is as much about the process as it is about eating.
Shashliki are a cultural phenomenon in Russia and many other former Soviet countries. Roasting meat in the outdoors is the epitome of summer fun. During the hot summer months, thousands of families leave the hustle and bustle of city life for the countryside to enjoy some rest, relaxation and shashliki.
There’s just something about the fresh air of the woods that makes you extra hungry for a delicious, mouthwatering piece of freshly grilled shashlik.
Shashlik is the Russian version of a shish kebab, and is traditionally prepared with lamb. Fresh meat is cut into chunks, marinaded overnight in a variety of sauces and threaded onto a metal skewer. Skewers are then cooked on an open coal grill called mangal.
Grilling pros and meat lovers swear that the secret to an excellent shashlik is the marinade. Marinades help break down the tough proteins often found in lamb meat, leaving the juicy and tender and ready for grilling.
Whether you’ve got an hour or a day before your big shashlik grilling party, make sure you leave some time to prep and marinade the meat. There is no shortage of sauces, marinades and home-made concoctions to flavor the meat.
Many shashlik veterans swear by fresh pomegranate juice, kefir, citrus, and myriad of native Caucus wines that enhance the meat’s flavor.
Whether you soak the meat in wine, knead it with oil, drench it in kefir, make sure you give it enough time to absorb. Once the meat absorbs the marinade, it will stay juicy and tender as you cook it on the open fire.
To experience the true taste of shashlik, don’t forget the gourmet sauce.