Skewers are one of the easiest things to make and delicious! If you don’t have a grill in your backyard, they’re easy to marinate, assemble, and transport to whatever park or campsite you’re traveling to for a cookout. You’ll love skewers even more when you make them right. Here’s a few tricks to ensure the best, most evenly cooked, most flavorful grilled skewers:
RULE #1: KEEP EACH INGREDIENT SEPARATE
The easiest way you can instantly improve your skewer game is to forget everything you learned about alternating cubes of meat and vegetables on skewers. Sure, those colorful kebabs look pretty, but the ingredients invariably cook at different speeds, which means at least one component will end up over- or under-cooked. So make things easier: Separate the meat onto its own skewers, and each variety of vegetable onto its own skewers, too. This way you can ensure that each ingredient is cooked to the exact right doneness—no more over-cooking chicken because you’re waiting for onions to soften. Yes, you’ll lose the cute multi-colored kebab presentation, but serving kebabs on their sticks isn’t the best way to eat them anyway.
RULE #2: STEER CLEAR OF SUPER-LEAN MEAT
More fat equals more flavor. It also means the meat will be more tender, and you’ll be less likely to end up with a dry, stringy texture if you accidentally cook it for too long. Opt for boneless skinless chicken thighs, boneless beef short ribs, lamb shoulder, and pork shoulder. You won’t regret it.
RULE #3: EMBRACE THE LONGER MARINADE
An overnight marinade is always a good idea for kebabs, especially when you’re working with tougher, fattier cuts of meat and chicken. And why wouldn’t you want to get them all ready to go the night before and save time the day of? This rule does not apply to fish or shellfish: the texture will get all rubbery and funny if you try to marinate it for longer than a few minuates. Instead, just brush your fish or shellfish kebabs with your sauce or seasoning and toss it right on the grill.
RULE #4: MARINATE THE VEGETABLES JUST LIKE THE MEAT
Your kebab meat shouldn’t get all the marinade love. Before grilling them on skewers, treat your vegetables just like meat and give them a nice soak in a flavorful marinade. This is especially great for more “spongey” vegetables like eggplant or mushrooms that will really soak up that sauce in a real way.
RULE #5: SERVE SKEWERS OFF THE SKEWERS
Since you’re skewering and grilling each ingredient separately, you’ve already let go of the idea of serving your kebabs on the skewers, right? Good. I love pull all the meat and vegetables off the skewers and toss them together onto a serving platter and give them a hit of brightness with a handful of fresh herbs and a squeeze of fresh citrus. Add some (warm grilled!) bread on the side and a refreshing cool sauce (even a dollop of plain yogurt), and you’ve got yourself a beautiful dinner.
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