Cooking Shish Kebabs the Right Way

Ah, Shish Kebabs. Many people’s memory of a shish kebab is an incongruous combination of uncooked vegetables and tough chewy overcooked meat. Whether it is a flaccid bit of zucchini or the escaping tomato, there are many ways do shish kebabs wrong, which is why they have a pretty bad rep. We were determined to find a way that is both pleasurable to eat, and doesn’t require a lot of fluffing around. I tried a number of different techniques from my disturbingly large collection of cookbooks as well as online, and we found a lot of recipes but none that really satisfied all our criteria.

The main problem with shish kebabs is that the meat cooks much faster than most vegetables. This makes your vegetable choices actually quite limited. We had the best results with bell peppers and onions. They cook at a similar rate to lamb and the combination suits perfectly. We tried using a rub on the kebab, but because the meat cooks too quickly, it leaves an unappetizing taste and texture. However, marinades work fantastically.

Basic Grilled Shish Kebab

  • 2 and 1/4 pounds of lamb (preferably leg of lamb – shank end), trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion (preferably red), cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 3 medium bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces

Step 1.
Combine lamb and your choice of marinade (see below) in a large bowl or plastic bag for as long as you can (minimum 2 hours or preferably overnight).

Step 2.
If using wood skewers, pre-soak at least 30 mins in advance so they don’t catch fire.

Step 3.
Start preheating the barbecue.

Step 4.
Thread each skewer in this order:

1 piece of meat
1 stack of onion (about 3 layers)
2 pieces of pepper

Repeat to fill your skewer – ending with a piece of meat.

Step 5.
Grill the kebabs uncovered until meat is browned all over. Cook for roughly 7 minutes for medium rare but this will vary depending on how hot your grill gets.

 

Shish Kebab Marinades

Both of these marinades simply need to be processed in your food processor until smooth. Enjoy.

Rosemary and Mint Marinade

10 large mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons juice from a fresh lemon
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
A few turns of freshly ground black pepper

Parsley Marinade with Ginger and Spices

1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1 jalapeño chile
2 tablespons fresh ginger, grated roughly
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
A few turns of freshly ground black pepper