Nothing says summer like grilling delicious kabobs. There’s no mistaking the mouthwatering aroma of fresh ingredients sizzling over a fiery grill. Best of all, whether you choose steak, chicken, pork, lamb, or even forego meat entirely, kabobs are a cinch to prepare and cook. See Step 1 below to start learning this simple, delicious art!
Preparing Your Skewers for Grilling
Choose a kabob recipe or pick your own ingredients. Usually, kabobs contain meat and/or vegetables, though seafood, fruit, and other ingredients are also sometimes used. Choose a selection of ingredients that suit you – there’s no “wrong” answer here. Popular choices for kabob meat are chicken, steak, pork, sausage, lamb, shrimp, and fish; for vegetables are onions, mushrooms, green or red peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes; and for fruit are pineapples, peaches, or apples.
While any combination of the ingredients above should work well, certain kabob dishes with set recipes can also be attempted. Many traditional kabob recipes use lamb as their main meat. Below are just a few traditional recipes and their key ingredients
Sheekh Kabobs – ground lamb seasoned with cilantro and mint and prepared in a tandoor (traditional Indian oven)
If using a recipe that contains meat, consider marinating. If you plan to grill meat, you may want to prepare a marinade, though it’s certainly not essential. Soaking your meat in a marinade before grilling can give it the flavor of your marinade ingredients, creating new taste combinations that wouldn’t be possible with un-marinated meat. Typically, to marinate meat, the meat is put in an airtight container (like a ziplock bag) with, at the very least, oil and an acid (for instance, vegetable oil and lemon juice). Usually, additional seasonings and herbs are added to these base liquids to build more complex flavors.
For example, here are the ingredients an all-purpose teriyaki marinade that’s suitable for beef, chicken, and more: Vegetable oil
Soak wooden kabob skewers in a bowl of water. When it comes to kabob grilling, you generally have two options in terms of skewers – metal or wood/bamboo. The former are sturdier and more durable, but more expensive, while the latter are cheaper and more convenient. If you choose to use wooden or bamboo skewers, soak the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. This will help keep them moist during cooking and prevent them from catching fire or burning.
Cut your ingredients into small pieces. Place your ingredients on a cutting board and use a sharp kitchen knife to slice them into roughly 1-inch (2.54 cm) thick cubes. Obviously, these dimensions won’t be possible for certain types of food – for instance, bell peppers will have to be cut into small squares, rather than cubes. The most important thing to remember is to cut your ingredients into small pieces that are roughly equal in size so that they cook at roughly the same rate.
If you’re using meat and you haven’t marinated it, you may at this point want to consider the use of a dry rub – a combination of powdered spices and seasonings meant to give the meat a flavorful outer layer. To apply a dry rub, simply mix the seasonings and coat the meat generously with the mixture. Here’s an example of the ingredients in an all-purpose paprika rub that’s great on steak: Paprika
Skewer the ingredients end-to-end on the sticks. Once your ingredients are just how you’d like them, it’s time to make skewers! Use the sharp skewer sticks to pierce each piece of meat or vegetable and slide it to the end, building a “stack” of skewered ingredients as you go. Typically, kabobs alternate pieces of meat with pieces of fruit or vegetables, as this creates great flavor contrasts. Obviously, this is not an issue with vegetarian kabobs. When you’ve skewered all of your ingredients, you’re ready to grill! Leave a small gap in between each piece to allow the kabob pieces to cook thoroughly on all sides.
Heat the grill to a medium heat. For a delicious outer “sear” on your kabobs, it’s important to have a nice hot grill before you place your kabobs on it. For gas grills, this is easy – simply set the grill’s burner(s) to a medium level, close the grill, and allow it to heat up. For charcoal grills, this is a little trickier – you’ll want to light the charcoal and allow it to blaze freely until the flames die down and the briquettes ash over and emanate an orange glow. This can take 30 minutes or longer.
Generally, for about a pound of meat, you’ll want to use roughly 30charcoal briquettes.
Place the kabobs on the grilling surface. If your grill is hot, you should immediately begin to hear a sizzling sound. As you lay your kabobs on the grill, leave space between each to ensure even cooking.
To prevent your kabobs from sticking to the grill, it’s a wise idea topaint the grilling surface with vegetable or olive oil immediately before laying down your kabobs. Use a grilling brush for safety’s sake – don’t attempt to paint a hot grill with a paper towel or similar improvised tools.
Turn the kabobs during cooking to allow all sides to cook evenly. Be sure that all the sides of every kabob touch the grill – not only does this ensure done-ness, but also gives the meat (if you’re using any) an all-over crisp exterior. As a general rule, most kabobs will require approximately 10-15 minutes to cook, which is 2.5-3.75 minutes for each of the 4 sides. For vegetarian kabobs, you won’t need to worry about the meat being done, so, instead, turn as desired to give the vegetables and fruits a pleasing brown or black exterior and a softened texture.
Check any meat for done-ness. Remove one of the kabobs from the grill. If using meat, cut into a piece of meat to check if it’s done or not. Look for the classic signs of done-ness – clear juices, lack of a pink interior, ease of cutting. If the meat is very pink on the inside, bleeds reddish juices, or has an inside that resists cutting, it needs to cook longer. For more information on telling whether a piece of meat is done or not,see: How to Check if Steak Is Done Using the Finger Test
How to Test Whether a Chicken is Cooked
How to Know if Food is Undercooked
Remove the kabobs from the grill when done. When your ingredients have finished cooking, remove the kabobs from the grill and place them on a clean plate or platter. Don’t use any of the plates you used to hold your un-cooked kabobs, especially if you used meat – germs from uncooked meat can contaminate cooked food, leading to serious illness.
Serve alone or with a suitable side. Congratulations! Your kabobs are ready to eat either on or off the skewer. Most kabobs make a delicious dish on their own, but for a full meal, consider serving with a side that pairs well with the ingredients on the kabob.
For traditional kabob recipes, seasoned rice and/or a piece of flat bread often serve as the sides. These basic sides have hundreds of regional variations. For instance, chelow kabobs traditionally are served with rice mixed with raw egg yolk.
Grilled kabob ingredients can also be used in other dishes. For instance, Turkish Doner kabobs are often served in a pita bread with salad as a sandwich.
If you are using wooden skewers, especially round ones, try using 2 sticks per kabob. This will add stability to the kabobs, which can be heavy, and make it easier to turn them while grilling.
For additional flavor, try marinating your ingredients in a sauce for approximately 30 minutes before grilling. Popular marinades include teriyaki, sweet and sour, honey mustard, or lemon garlic. You can buy ready-made marinades from your local grocery store, or you can research recipes online or in cookbooks to make your own. You can baste the skewers with any leftover sauce to add an even bigger burst of flavor.
If you are cooking other food dishes that require different lengths of time to cook properly, try skewing all the protein on 1 skewer and the vegetable on the other. For example, if you’re cooking meat that takes 10 minutes versus tomatoes, which take only 2 or 3 minutes, put both items on different skewers. This will allow you to cook each set of ingredients properly without over- or under-cooking the other.
Throw away any leftover marinades that used to baste your food. If you wish to serve a dip on the side, use a batch of marinade that did not touch the raw ingredients. This can prevent illness.
Things You’ll Need
Protein or meat
How to Make Grilled Mushrooms in Foil Packets
How to Grill Sausage
How to Prepare Wooden Skewers
How to Barbeque a Fish Directly on Charcoal
Sources and Citations
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