Grilled Kebabs | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Grilled Kebabs

Grilled Kebabs

Tips for Making Perfect Kebabs

Facebook icon
Twitter icon
Digg icon
e-mail icon

Before there was ever such a thing as a recipe, our human forebears grilled chunks of meat over an open fire. We know that from the skewers found in archaeological digs.

Prehistoric kebabs! They never went out of fashion. From ancient times to this day, you could go almost everywhere in the world and find some form of grilled food on a stick in restaurants, home kitchens or as street fare. 

Why have kebabs endured for millennia? Because it’s so incredibly easy to spear an ingredient or two on a sword or a skewer and grill them quickly for dinner. And also this -- food, fresh from the fire, scented with smoke and sizzling on the surface tastes really good. Yes, I know, not all of us have the luxury of an outdoor grill. You can still make fabulous kebabs under a broiler.

Although the actual skewering and cooking are fairly simple to do, there are some pointers for making kebabs better:

  • Meat for kebabs should be cut from the more tender portions: beef rib rather than chuck for example. For fish kebabs, make sure the meat is firm and will hold together – tuna, halibut, sea bass, for example. Chicken breast or thigh work too.
  • Same goes for vegetables and fruit: use those that stay more or less solid in the heat: scallions, mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, large grape tomatoes, peach, pineapple, mango, apple and kiwi. Harder vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, white baby onions and potatoes need partial cooking first.
  • Remove any extra surface fat to prevent fire flare-ups.
  • Cut the chunks of meat (fish/poultry/vegetables) into more or less the same size, to ensure even cooking.
  • Marinate the ingredients for extra flavor. A simple vinaigrette dressing will do, but you can add items like chopped fresh herbs, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, pomegranate paste, minced fresh ginger, seasoning mixes/condiments such as ras el hanout, harissa, sriracha, pebre sauce, chermoula, dukkah or coconut milk mixed with curry.
  • If you haven’t used a flavoring marinade, brush the ingredients with vegetable oil or olive oil before placing the kebabs over the hot grids.

That’s all there is to it.

It’s easier to cook kebab ingredients separately – meat and veggies or fruit on separate skewers – because the meat usually takes longer to cook, so put them on the grill first. On the other hand, there is some visual appeal to the mixed ingredients – beef, green pepper and tomato or chicken, pineapple and zucchini, for example.

Your call.

Grilled Lamb Kebabs

Yield:

  • Makes 4 servings

Active Time:

  • 15 min

Total Time:

  • 2 hrs 15 min

 

Ingredients

1-1/2 pounds boneless lamb, cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks

3 tablespoons orange marmalade

2 tablespoons apricot jam

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper

salt to taste

Steps:

Place the lamb in a glass, ceramic, stainless steel or other non-reactive bowl. In another bowl, mix the marmalade, apricot jam, mustard, garlic, ginger, rosemary, chili pepper and salt to taste. Spoon the mixture over the lamb. Toss the meat to coat all the pieces. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Preheat an outdoor grill or oven broiler. Thread the meat pieces onto 4 skewers. Grill for 8-15 minutes, turning them to brown all sides, depending on whether you like them rare, medium or well-done. 

 

Grilled Beef Kebabs in Mustard-Herb Dressing

Total Time

     • about 2 hours, including marinating time

Prep time:

     • 8-15 minutes

Ingredients

1-1/2 pounds boneless beef cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried oregano)

1 large clove garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/2 teaspoon Sriracha or to taste

1 large sweet red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks

12 scallions (or use partially cooked, peeled small white onions)

1 small zucchini

12 medium mushroom caps

Steps:

  1. Grilled Lamb Kebabs
  2. Place the lamb in a glass, ceramic, stainless steel or other non-reactive bowl. In another bowl, mix the marmalade, apricot jam, mustard, garlic, ginger, rosemary, chili pepper and salt to taste. Spoon the mixture over the lamb. Toss the meat to coat all the pieces. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Preheat an outdoor grill or oven broiler. Thread the meat pieces onto 4 skewers. Grill for 8-15 minutes, turning them to brown all sides, depending on whether you like them rare, medium or well-done.
  3. Grilled Beef Kebabs in Mustard-Herb Dressing
  4. Put the meat in a glass, ceramic, stainless steel or other non-reactive bowl. In another bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, chives, rosemary, garlic, salt to taste, and Sriracha. Pour the mixture over the meat. Toss the meat to coat all the pieces. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours tossing it 2-3 times during that time. Remove the meat from the marinade. While the meat marinates, cut the red pepper into 1-1/2" chunks, the scallions into 1-1/2" lengths and the zucchini into 1" thick slices. When the meat has finished marinating, thread the ingredients onto 4-6 skewers, alternating meat and vegetables. Brush the vegetables with some of the marinade. Preheat an outdoor grill or oven broiler. Grill for 8-15 minutes, turning them to brown all sides, depending on whether you like them rare, medium or well-done, brushing the meat and vegetables occasionally while the kebabs cook.

Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford. She is the author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, on Facebook at RonnieVailFein, Twitter at @RonnieVFein, Instagram at RonnieVFein.

Join The Discussion