Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Swamplandia! inspired Red Seth Bites with Swamp-Ass Dip

Swamplandia! inspired snacks:
Red Seth Bites and Swamp Ass Dip
I don't think it is a stretch to say that Swamplandia! is probably the best all-around thing I will read in 2013.  I mean...can you fault me?  Gorgeous language, stunning writing, storytelling that distracts from the elevated writing, swamps, likeable kids facing realistic challenges they don't understand, coming of age...yeah, Karen Russell got me hook, line, sinker.  Yes, I've spent some time in South Florida, been to the Everglades, and I've seen gator wrestling live (let's just be clear: I have no desire to partake, but gator does sure taste good!); this book made those memories come alive again like I was experiencing them for the first time.

PopTart, werk that grill!
I was inspired to cook, naturally.  Also naturally, I thought about what we feed gators in captivity: chicken.  YUM.  There was also the visual inspiration July 2013 cover of Bon Appetit, which just kind of looked at me as I ripped through Swamplandia!, tempting me to take a bite.  The resulting skewers, which I'm calling Red Seth Bites, were good enough that my mother requested that I make them again, a week later, for my father's birthday.   By lucky coincidence, the marinade was initially way spicier than I had intended for my sissy family (it wound up not being too spicy at all when cooked, so up the pepper and hot sauce if you like a slow burn), so I whipped up a yogurt based dip to cool things down.  What resulted was so good I may or may not have taken to eating it with a spoon...and then used it again with my leftovers the next day.  I used about a pound of chicken with my marinade, but I suspect you could use any protein you'd like.  Please, please: someone use gator and tell me all about it.

Reth Seth Snacks, other delicious things on the grill.


Red Seth Bites
(serves approximately 4-6)

Swamplandia! inspired Red Seth Bites
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp coarse Kosher salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp sriracha
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice with pulp
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
Approximately 1 pound of chicken (cutlets, pieces of breast, whatever kind you want to either stick directly on a grill or skewer)
Skewers soaked in water

1.  Blend garlic through orange juice (everything except chicken and sesame seeds) in a blender or food processor until well mixed.
2.  In a large container, pour marinade over chicken, add sesame seeds, lightly massage to ensure all chicken is coated, and let sit in the fridge for at least two hours.
3.  Grill!
4.  Enjoy with some Swamp-Ass Dip and good company!

Swamp-Ass Dip
Swamp-Ass Dip, the natural pairing for Red Seth Bites.

1 6oz container of Greek yogurt 
1 small avocado (or half of a larger one), in large pieces
1/2 cucumber with peel, in large pieces
1 4oz can diced green chiles
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves

1) Lightly pulse all ingredients in a food processor until roughly mixed (you still want some smaller chunks, but an overall blend).
2.   Garnish with more cilantro and a dash of cumin.
3.  Try not to eat it with a spoon in front of the guests.

If you have grilling leftovers, try this:

In a large pita, place your leftover sliced steak/chicken/gator (please, please, someone), some lime-juice massaged kale, avocado, and a gator sized serving of Swamp-Ass dip.  Roll, like a gator does to it's dinner.  Eat.  Have a napkin handy for the drool.

Try to save some of that Swamp-Ass Dip for your gator roll.

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