Summertime means Grilling. One of our favorite meals on the grill is Kabobs (or Kebabs – the spellings are interchangeable, seemingly a difference in origin – Arabic, Persian, etc.). They are a party waiting to happen! Dinner on a skewer!
8 Reasons Why I Love Kabobs
1. It’s a grill-focused meal, which means the heat is out of the kitchen and outside where it belongs!
2. It’s a fun meal to share with guests because people can hang out around the grill tending it while others are in the kitchen getting the rest of the meal ready.
3. There’s something for everyone with Kabobs! Whether you are a meat-lover or vegetable-lover, it’s a meal for you.
4. It’s really versatile – you can use any meat (steak, chicken, shrimp, pork) or vegetable (peppers, mushrooms, squash, tomatoes) or fruit that you want to or that you have on hand.
5. It’s healthy and tasty! (Always a winning combination).
6. It’s an easy meal that doesn’t require lots of recipes, just a lot of prepping.
7. Speaking of prepping, it can be done ahead of time (which is always helpful).
8. Different sauces (homemade or purchased) can add a fun zing and variety to the meal – I’ve done Tzatziki Sauce, Satay Sauce, Chipotle Sauce.
|from my 1969 set of skewers that I inherited
I have tried different things throughout the years and there are many approaches and options when preparing kabobs. Metal skewers vs. wooden skewers; make your own personal kabob vs. community kabobs; all meat on some skewers/all veggies on the others vs. mixed skewers; to name a few.
Here are some things we have learned along the way:
If you use wooden skewers (which are good if you don’t have enough metal ones or you don’t own any metal ones) it is imperative that you follow the instructions on the package about soaking the skewers before using them on the grill. Trust us, we learned the hard way.
The time we tried the “make your own kabob approach” it became a messy, raw-meat, confusing-to-label-situation that we forfeited and made community Kabobs.
As far as a varied skewer vs. a segregated skewer- the rule of thumb is to put things on the same skewer that will require a similar amount of cooking time. I like to include onion on meaty skewers just to add flavor to the meat, however, many veggies cook at a different rate than meat so we more often segregate the veggies and the meats.
Prepare and marinade the meat:
According to THE BEST RECIPE: Grilling and Barbecue* cookbook – by the editors of Cooks Illustrated culinary magazine, after laborious research on kabob marinade research, came to the conclusion that an acidic marinade (one with lemon juice or vinegar) was less effective in keeping in the flavor and creating a good texture to the meat than an oil-based marinade. And in order to have the nice flavor of the lemon or lime, the most effective technique is to squeeze it on top of the meat when taking it off of the grill after cooking.
*(Side note: if you have never read this book or magazine, and you like an analytical, research approach to cooking, you must check it out. I find it to be fascinating and sometimes comical! They take their cooking research very seriously!)
So, we followed their recipe and it was very tasty!
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
(for chicken, additional herbs–basil, oregano, etc. are welcomed)
2 pounds beef tips &/or chicken breast cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
Lime or lemon for squeezing at the end
Stir together ingredients for marinade.
Place meat in marinade.
Toss to coat evenly.
Cover and refrigerate until well seasoned (1 hour or up to 24 hours).
Prepare the Vegetables (and fruit)
Clean and cut into large chunks:
Place in a bowl and toss in a drizzle of olive oil until coated. Season with Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper.
Skewer the Veggies and Meat onto Skewers.
Grill until meat is well-browned, grill-marked, and cooked at least 8 minutes. Grill veggies until tender.
I like to serve with a rice dish. Our favorite fast and easy and tasty is the Saffron Yellow Rice.
I also like to serve a green salad with this meal. Last week we made a Greek salad and I loved scooping up the rice, salad and kabob with the Greek dressing and the Tzatziki sauce.
For my Greek Salad, I included Romaine Lettuce, Shredded Purple Cabbage (from my mom’s neighbor’s garden), grape tomatoes, diced red onion and Feta (of course).
I would have included cucumbers, olives and banana peppers if I had had them that day.
The dressing is super simple and tasty!
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup cup lemon juice
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. parsley
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Stir together all ingredients except oil. While whisking vigorously, slowing pour in oil until well incorporated and thick.
(Last year when we were having a Kabob gathering I asked my friend, Stephanie, to find some fun sauces and she found these recipes from here and there. Yum! They were all good and something for everyone.)
Tzatziki Sauce- Greek yogurt sauce
2 (8 ounce) containers plain yogurt
2 cucumbers – peeled, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Blend or process, refrigerate, and serve cold. Refreshing and delicious!
(We have omitted the cucumbers before and it makes a tasty sauce that my family loves!)
Satay Sauce- Thai peanut sauce
1 (10 ounce) can coconut milk
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 small onion, grated
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine coconut milk, peanut butter, onion, soy sauce, brown sugar, and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and keep warm.
Chipotle Sauce- Spicy cream sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, mayonnaise, and chipotle peppers until smooth. Chill until serving.
Ready, Set, GRILL!!!