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~ How to: Properly Skewer Food for Grilling Kabobs ~

PICT0017The Summer grill season is in full swing, and unless I miss my guess, I'll attend a picnic or a barbecue sometime soon to find the host or hostess struggling and fumbling to keep the food on their kabobs under control, meaning:  keep the ingredients from irritatingly spinning around on the skewers when they try to turn them over to cook them on the second side.  Depending upon the circumstances, sometimes I offer my help and advice, other times "not so much".  When do I? Always when asked and usually because the cook is a novice willing to learn a new technique. When don't I?  When the cook boasts experience while I watch his or her grill go up in flames!

IMG_8601I've seen self-professed seasoned pros screw up their skewers!

IMG_4251Before the actual skewering of the food, here's a bit of "kabobbing" advice:  Determine the ingredients prior to choosing a type of skewer or the actual skewering of the food. Always prep, season and/or marinate your protein, fruit or vegetables according to the recipe directions, keeping your food uniform in size.  If the recipe is unclear (and there are a lot of them out there), error on the side of the food being prepped a bit too large rather than a bit too small, keeping 1"-1 1/2"-sized pieces as a general rule.  Skewer ingredients without overcrowing them on the sticks, alternating proteins with fruits and/or vegetables, to enhance the flavors as they cook.  All grills cook differently, so take this into consideration when following a recipe too.  Remove one kabob from the grill and slice into it, to check it for doneness, prior to removing all kabobs from the grill.  

IMG_8611After you have prepped your ingredients:  Kabob on!   

IMG_8360Choose your weapons:  The skewers can be any length.  The ones pictured here are 11" long. They can be metal or bamboo.  If you are using bamboo, soak them in a bowl of tepid water for about 30 minutes prior to using them.  This will prevent them from catching on fire over the intense heat of the grill. If your skewers are metal, make sure the handles are heatproof. This will prevent the handles from melting to the surface of the grill!

41W5WXTFRML._AA160_Learn the technique: The trick to skewering food so it does not irritatingly spin around on the skewer when you try to turn it over to cook on the second side is: double skewer your ingredients. Pushing two skewers held about 1/2 apart, simultaneously through the food stabilizes it.  This means, you'll need twice as many skewers as the recipe calls for...

IMG_8368...unless you own "double skewers". I invested in a high-quality set of 12 metal ones because they can be washed and reused.  That being said, for convenience, if you're transporting food or feeding a really large crowd, you can buy bamboo ones (pictured above) too!

Another option is to use wIMG_8596ide, flat metal skewers, which solve the spinning problem, but fail dismally with particularly watery proteins, fruits and vegetables, like scallops, peaches and zucchini.  I've also been displeased with them when grilling chunks of beef and lamb too.  While the food does not spin around on them, the metal gets so hot, they overcook these foods in the center. Watery foods end up with mushy centers, and, foods you want to serve rare or medium-rare, end up medium or well done.  For these types of food, choose wide, flat bamboo skewers instead!

On the other hand, the metal is great conductor of heat and is fantastic for proteins and solid vegetables, like chicken and potatoes, that should be cooked through and/or soft in the center!

Are there exceptions to this "double skewer" rule?  Of course!

PICT0008 PICT0005Yes, shrimp are the first exception to the rule. Because they can be threaded onto the skewer at two points, where the tail meets the meat and a second time through the thickest part of the body, they will remain stable with just one skewer.  If your adding other cubed meat, poultry, seafood or vegetables to the skewer with the shrimp, the exception is negated.

IMG_8575The second exception to this rule is long, sometimes pounded/flattened, pieces of meat or poultry, like pork or the chicken tenderloins pictured here.  They can be threaded onto the skewer just like a needle through a piece of fabric!

In my humble opinion, I'd rather be safe than sorry, and, double skewering, whether it be with 2 single skewers or 1 double skewer is the superior way to skewer food!

Whoa Nellie!  Look at these 17" x 1" skewers:

IMG_8628FYI:  "Kabbaba" is the ancient Aramaic word for "to char" or "to burn".  It's no accident that medieval Persian soldiers, who used their swords to grill their food over open fires in the field are credited with inventing "kabobs".  There is no need to double-skewer anything if you are using these.  I am now officially armed and dangerous!!! 

IMG_8523How to:  Properly Skewer Food for Grilling Kabobs:  Recipe yields instructions for skewering proteins, fruit and/or vegetables for kabobs.

Special Equipment List:  metal or bamboo skewers, single or double, flat or round, long or short; protein, vegetables and/or fruit; marinade (optional); cutting board; knife, vegetable peeler, pastry brush, tongs, etc.; barbecue grill

IMG_8381Cook's Note:  I've pictured a lot of shrimp today and I get asked this question often:  Why do upscale restaurants leave the tails on shrimp?  People complain that the tails are an annoyance.  There are three reasons.  #1.  In the event the diner can enjoy the shrimp whole, it serves as a convenient "handle". #2.  The last bite of shrimp, where the meat meets the tail, is the most succulent tasty bite of shrimp.  #3. This is an indication you are being served the best shrimp in the best way possible.  Restaurant chefs and savvy home cooks always adhere to this practice!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


Thanks for taking the time to write the nice comment Andrew!

Thanks for your article good read

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