Wacky RumakiSteven Raichlen
Classic rumaki features a water chestnut and a chicken liver wrapped in bacon and grilled on a small skewer. It’s associated with the Polynesian-American restaurants of the 1940s and ’50s. My inventive buddies at Boss Hawg’s Barbecue & Catering Co. in Topeka, Kansas, got to thinking about rumaki alternatives. This one, made with pickled watermelon rind, may sound peculiar, but it tastes great.
- Yield: Makes about 32 rumaki, serves 6 to 8
- Equipment: About 32 small (6-inch) bamboo skewers, soaked for 1 hour in cold water to cover, then drained
- 2 jars (10 ounces each) pickled watermelon rind, drained
- 10 to 12 slices bacon, cut into 3½- to 4-inch pieces
Step 1: Wrap each watermelon rind piece in a piece of bacon, securing the bacon by inserting a skewer through it into the watermelon.
Step 2: Make an aluminum foil shield for the bamboo skewers by folding a 24-by-12-inch sheet of aluminum foil in half and half again so that it forms a 12-by-6-inch rectangle.
Step 3: Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high.
Step 4: When ready to cook, place the aluminum foil shield in the center of the grill. Arrange the rumakis on the grill so that the exposed part of the skewers are resting on the aluminum foil shield. This will keep them from burning. Grill until the bacon is crisp and brown, about 2 minutes per side (about 4 minutes in all), turning with tongs. The dripping bacon fat may cause flare-ups, so be prepared to move the rumakis. A quick squirt from a water pistol can help extinguish any flare-ups, but don’t overuse this technique or you’ll put out the fire.
Step 5: Transfer the rumaki to a platter and serve them immediately.
Even if it sounds just too plain weird to you, give this rumaki a chance. If you’d rather substitute something less bizarre, wrap chicken livers or scallops in the bacon. Note the use of an aluminum foil shield to help keep the bamboo skewers from burning.
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