With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s that time of year where I try to find some fun and creative meal ideas that differ from the traditional staples that one would expect to see on the dinner table. With that in mind, I have decided that my contribution to my family get together this holiday season will be a kebab medley prepared outside on the grill while the rest, my family crowds around in the kitchen.
Kebab may refer to various meat dishes originating in the Middle East, but for simplicity reasons in this article when I say kebab, I am referring to shish kebabs that are prepared on skewers. Kebabs can be as easy or as complicated as you would like to make them, and most meats, marinades, and vegetables are suitable to work with, so there is a lot of room for creativity when putting them together. One of my favorite things about kebabs is that they are very easy to make if you follow a few simple guidelines.
Regardless of what meat and vegetable combinations you are planning to use, the key is to make sure everything is cut into uniform pieces. Nothing is worse than your first bite of chicken being too dry and then biting into a piece that’s raw in the middle on your next. Try to cut your meat into approximately one inch square pieces and do the same with whatever vegetables you decide to use.
As I mentioned above, most any vegetables will work on a kebab; however try to keep the cooking time of the meat in mind when making your combinations. For example, cherry tomatoes are a great addition to a beef or lamb kebab because those meats are typically enjoyed medium rare to medium but may become overcooked if you are using chicken or pork or any other meat that requires a higher internal temperature. Carrots, broccoli, onions, and bell peppers all hold up extremely well on the grill from my experience so if you are using a meat that requires a longer cooking time then try to use heartier vegetables.
Once you have all your meat and vegetables picked out and cut into uniform pieces, you can start putting them on skewers. If you are using wooden skewers make sure you soak them in water for at least 15 minutes as this will reduce the chance of them splintering or catching on fire. I prefer metal skewers because they are a bit easier to work with, in my opinion, plus they are reusable. A simple trick I like to follow is to have meat and not vegetables as the ending pieces on either side as they are less likely to fall off or shrivel up.
Once you have your kebabs assembled, you can marinade them in your favorite marinade, skewer and all. When you place them on your grill, try to keep them about an inch apart for flipping purposes. If you have leftover marinade, you can pour or brush it over the kebabs while they are on the grill to enhance the flavors.
Depending on how big the pieces are and what kind of meat you use, it should take anywhere from 6-15 minutes cooking time. Kebabs can be enjoyed as an appetizer or if you want to make a meal out of them, I would recommend a bed of rice or couscous.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Will Ives is a freelance writer with several years experience working as a chef in the Mid-Coast of Maine. Originally self-taught, Will received his degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Champlain College is Burlington, Vermont. Having a passion for the unknown as well as all things food, Will has spent the better part of the last two years traveling through the Mediterranean, as well as Central and Eastern Europe discovering many of the traditional dishes of the “Old World.”