During the holiday season, we’re particularly moved to bring our friends closer.
Skipping the usual nights out, we open our homes and invite them over, extending our warm hospitality. Having your friends sip mulled wine in your living room is relaxing and intimate—far more so than sitting down together at a bustling restaurant.
But at-home holiday hosting can be stressful. Pressure mounts with the season’s non-stop shopping, your drama-queen sister’s visit from out of town, and a jam-packed social calendar.
Is there a way to simplify holiday get-togethers, pare down the fuss and focus on what’s really important: sharing your home, a toast and a few delicious tidbits with friends? For answers, we turned to Chef Jason Kallert and Sommelier Mariette Bolitiski at American Cut, NYC’s acclaimed steakhouse.
Jason simplified two favorite appetizer recipes for home cooks: Tangy Chimichurri Shrimp Kebabs and Blistered Shishito Peppers. And Mariette took the anxiety out of drinks’ pairings with her perfect booze suggestions.
Ditch the ho-hum cold shrimp appetizer and opt for a crowd-pleaser with a little more zest and zeal. These easy shrimp kababs are made with chimichurri, a delicious Argentinian sauce redolent with parsley, garlic and oregano. But the best part about this chimichurri? You don’t have to measure, chop, stir and mix it yourself. You can buy terrific chimichurri sauce at any grocery store or supermarket. You’ll find it shelved with the spices or in the international Latin food section.
At American Cut, Mariette pairs the shrimp with a sweet and herby Bacon Apple Boom cocktail. To get similar flavors at home, try a Bacon Apple Crisp cocktail: equal parts sparkling apple cider and a premade bacon-infused vodka like Bakon Flavored Vodka.
Chimichurri Shrimp Kebabs – Serves Five
1 pound shrimp, peeled but not deveined, fresh or frozen thawed
¼ cup chimichurri sauce Salt and pepper to taste
Five 4” knotted bamboo skewers
1. Line a broiler pan with foil and set aside.
2. Adjust your oven’s broiler rack so that it sits about four inches from the flame. Turn oven on to “broil.”
3. Toss the shrimp kebabs in the chimichurri and season with salt and pepper to taste. If time permits, let the shrimp marinate in your refrigerator for 30 minutes—but you can skip this step if pressed.
4. Thread shrimp onto the bamboo skewers.
5. Place skewers evenly on the broiling pan.
6. Slide pan onto the rack and boril shrimp for 2 minutes on each side. Broil until cooked through, but not overdone.
7. To serve, arrange skewers on a tray or wood cutting board with a small dish to collect discarded shrimp tails.
Blistered Shishito Peppers – Serves Six
Shishitos small, slender green peppers native to East Asia. Low on the spiciness scale—only one in 10 pack heat—the mild flavored peppers can be cooked whole without time-intensive de-seeding. The peppers can be found at larger grocery stores or international markets. If you cannot find shishito peppers near you, substitute the common Spanish Padron peppers.
To balance the pepper’s smoky-savory flavors, Mariette suggests a beer, “that’s got some mid-palate weight, tropical fruit and a bitter finish.” Her ideal accompaniment? The Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA.
1 pound shishito peppers, whole and clean
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Warm a sauté pan on medium high flame.
2. Add olive oil. 3. When oil is fragrant—it takes only a few seconds—toss the shishito peppers into the pan, stirring to coat with oil and to keep the peppers from burning.
4. Continue to stir and toss the peppers for around three minutes until they are evenly charred.
5. Quickly season with salt and pepper—for major flavor impact, use coarse Himalayan salt and fresh-cracked pepper. Remove pan from flame.
6. Scoop peppers from pan and spread them on a plate lined with a double layer of paper towel to absorb extra oil.
7. Serve the peppers in a large bowl. Keep a small bowl nearby for guests to discard pepper stems.
Let us know what you think of American Cut’s easy food and drinks’ pairings. Please share comments on Facebook.