Kebab has come to mean any food cooked on a skewer over hot coals (or baked in the oven in bad weather). “Kebabs fit any flavor profile and ingredient you want to use,” says Derrick Riches, co-author, with Sabrina Baksh, of Kebab: 75 Spectacular Recipes for Grilling. “They are incredibly versatile.” Here are his top tips for getting kebabs right.
- Use metal skewers. They are reusable and help transfer heat so that the interior of your foods cooks faster. Bamboo skewers can burn, break, or splinter.
- Group together foods that will take about the same amount of time to cook. You don’t want a skewer of overcooked zucchini and undercooked meat.
- When prepping your ingredients, make your pieces bite-size. That way, you just slide everything off the skewer ready to eat.
- For best flavor, expose as much of the food surfaces to the flame as possible. For example, slice summer squash into thick rounds and run the skewer through the sides so that the flesh faces the heat.
- Don’t over pack your skewers. If you crowd everything together, you’ll expose less to the flames, and it will take longer to cook. Keep things loose, with a little space in between each piece.
- Marinate to maximize flavor. A simple Italian dressing is all you will need. Brush it on the skewered meat and veggies, then let sit for about 30 minutes before cooking.
- Skip super dense foods that will be hard to skewer and will take a long time to cook, such as acorn squash.
- Most vegetables are done when they have nice grill marks. You don’t want them mushy. Play it safe and use a thermometer to test grilled meat.
- Make dessert kebabs! Briefly marinate fruit like mango, pineapple, and watermelon in rum or citrus juices, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cook briefly to get some flavor-boosting caramelization, then serve with ice cream.
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