KEBAB CONFIDENTIAL: Our best skewer secrets

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 31, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
MARINADES Makes about 3/4 cup. In a liquid measuring cup, combine marinade ingredients. Reserve 1/4 cup and pour remaining marinade into a zip-top bag. Add 1 1/2 pounds meat (for 4 people) and toss to coat. Refrigerate. Use reserved marinade to brush over meat and vegetables while grilling. BUTTERMILK-DILL MARINADE GREAT FOR: chicken or lamb Combine 3/4 cup buttermilk; 3 garlic cloves, crushed with a press; 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill; 1 teaspoon salt; and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. BALSAMIC-ROSEMARY MARINADE GREAT FOR: beef, lamb or chicken Combine 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons pepper. LEMON-OREGANO MARINADE GREAT FOR: chicken or fish Combine 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. SRIRACHA-PINEAPPLE MARINADE GREAT FOR: pork or chicken Boil 2 cups pineapple juice to reduce to 1/2 cup. Let cool and combine with 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 to 4 tablespoons Sriracha sauce and 1 teaspoon salt. ORANGE-CORIANDER MARINADE GREAT FOR: pork, beef or chicken Combine 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest plus 1/2 cup juice; 1/4 cup olive oil; 2 tablespoons toasted coriander seed, coarsely crushed; 1 tablespoon toasted fennel seed, coarsely crushed; 1 teaspoon salt; and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
GLAZES Makes about 3/4 cup. In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients. Liberally brush on meat and vegetables throughout grilling. APRICOT GLAZE GREAT FOR: shrimp, chicken or pork Combine 1/2 cup apricot jam, 3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. EASY BBQ GLAZE GREAT FOR: chicken or pork Combine 1/2 cup ketchup, 3 tablespoons cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons each brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

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If you can slide it on a skewer, you can grill it. That’s the fun of kebabs, and our tips make them foolproof. Match a marinade or glaze to meat and vegetables - our combos are just a start.

Kebabs can be tricky, since different meats and veggies cook in different times (see below). The key is to make single-ingredient skewers. If combining ingredients, choose those with similar times.


•  Cut meat and fish into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces. Smaller pieces are easy to overcook.

•  Cut vegetables in 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces or wedges following the natural shapes of the vegetables and creating flat surfaces for maximum contact with the grill.

•  Skewer all vegetables in the same direction so that they cook evenly.

•  Bread toasts beautifully on the grill. Pick a hearty, crusty bread; sandwich bread won’t hold up.


•  Marinate chicken, beef, lamb or pork 8 hours to 24 hours. Before marinating the meat, reserve some marinade to brush over the kebabs while they cook. Discard any remaining marinade.

•  Marinate fish or scallops 20 minutes to 40 minutes. Any longer could “cook” the fish.

•  Brush marinade or glaze on vegetables and bread cubes while grilling; don’t marinate them.

•  Marinating shrimp can make them tough - try a glaze instead.


•  Clean and oil the hot grill grates before cooking.

•  Grill kebabs at medium-high heat.

•  Season the meat and vegetables just before cooking.

•  Frequently brush kebabs with reserved marinade or glaze, but be careful of flare-ups.

• •  Flip skewers halfway through cooking, more frequently if needed. If food is charring before it cooks, try moving the kebabs to a cooler section of the grill.


Grills vary; use these times as a guide and check for doneness on the early side.


•  3-6 MINUTES: shrimp, scallops, swordfish, tuna, extra-firm tofu

•  6-9 MINUTES: fresh chorizo, salmon

•  9-12 MINUTES: boneless chicken breast, top round leg of lamb, pork tenderloin or pork loin

•  12-15 MINUTES: boneless chicken thighs, top blade or top sirloin beef


•  3-6 MINUTES: cherry tomatoes, scallions, bread cubes

•  6-9 MINUTES: halved shallots, asparagus

•  9-12 MINUTES: whole mushrooms, whole jalapeños, quartered bell peppers, parboiled potato chunks

•  12-15 MINUTES: onions, eggplant, zucchini, squash, fennel


•  3-6 MINUTES: lemon, lime and orange wedges

•  6-9 MINUTES: pineapple

•  9-12 MINUTES: plums, peaches, apricots

Everyday Food magazine offers quick, healthy solutions for everyday meals – from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living. For more recipes and additional tips, visit Questions or comments about the column should be sent to:

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