Kebabs 101: A Brief History, Preparation Tips and Recipes

Before we get into the meat of this blog, we feel we need to clear the air on one thing. There are some people out there who need to give kebabs a second chance for the sole reason that the kebab they consumed when casting judgement upon this unique and delightful treat, was not crafted with quality ingredients, like Cotton Cattle’s Kebab/Stew Chunks

Sure, it can be awkward to gnaw through meat on a stick if you’re talking about stiff, low-grade, irresponsibly raised meat. Grass fed and pastured meat is a must (in our opinion all the time) and this is especially true when it comes to kebabs/grilling. Stop gnawing through meat. Choose your meat wisely and you’re sure to fall in love with kebabs. Okay. Now let’s get into the juicy fun stuff.

How did the kebab come to be?

Many sources credit Turkish soldiers for inventing the kebab. It is thought that they used to grill chunks of freshly hunted animals skewered on swords over open field fires. In fact, in Turkish, "sis" means sword and "kebab" refers to meat (technically lamb but that has evolved through cultures over time so a kebab now features many meat varieties and can even be totally vegan). The form that most Americans eat today, paired with vegetables on a stick, is said to have been popularized by the Greek.

How do you use wooden skewers?

Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before using them to cook with. Or use metal skewers. Dry wooden skewers WILL catch on fire and ruin your experience.

How do I ensure even cooking?

Keep space between ingredients so the heat can circulate properly and cook all ingredients as evenly as possible. Similarly, cut ingredients into appropriate sizes. Things that typically need longer cooking time, cut smaller if possible and if something cooks quickly, try to add larger/thicker cuts.

How do I keep the kebab and its pieces from falling off and/or through the grill?

Aluminum foil is not cheating. If you have ingredients that are delicate and there’s risk of them slipping off and into the grill, cut yourself a break and use aluminum foil on the grill. Also, since some vegetables are prone to sliding off of the skewer, try ending both sides with a good piece of meat or a heartier vegetable.

Why is my kebab sticking?

Try rubbing oil on the grates before beginning. Also, have patience before you flip. Try to bring the kebabs as close to room temperature as possible and season generously with salt and pepper before placing on the grill but, that being said, the grill is still at a higher temperature than the food upon contact. Let the meat sit. As the temperature of the meat rises to the temperature of the grill, it’s less likely to stick. Again, patience is key!

Do I need to marinade my kebab?

Some people prefer to keep it simple with salt, pepper, and olive oil. If you’re using high quality ingredients, the meat and veggies can often speak for themselves. However, it can be fun to experiment with different marinades and sauce flavors, and observe how they pair with some of your favorite kebab ingredients. Try some of the recipes below. We dug up a collection of classics, some unique combinations, and some that include fantastic marinades and sauces. Enjoy!

How do I prepare kebabs? Try these recipes out!

Note: we sell a kebab cube that can work in any of the following recipes but feel free to try any appropriate meat from the Cotton Cattle store - steak, sausage, pork, name it.

Classic Beef Kebabs

You’ll need:

  • 1 pound beef Top Sirloin Steak cut 1-inch thick
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 1 medium red, yellow, or green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Traditional Shish Kebabs

You’ll need:

  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds lamb (trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 3 medium bell peppers (various colors, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 large onion (red, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt (sea)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ginger (grated)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Garnish: lemon and lime wedges

Hawaiian Kebabs

You’ll need:

  • Ketchup
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • Pineapple juice
  • Olive oil
  • Rice vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Sesame oil
  • Chicken breasts
  • Bell pepper
  • Pineapple
  • Red onion

Beef, Fig, and Red Onion Kebabs

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme chopped
  • 1/2 a small white onion finely grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 250 g steak rump, tenderloin or fillet
  • 1 large red onion
  • 6 figs

Creamy Garlic Sauce

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 lemon zest
  • salt and pepper to taste

No Cook Kebab Chili Sauce

You’ll need:

  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
  • 1-4 red chillies (depending on how hot you want it), chopped, seeds and all
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar or cider vinegar

Simple Pantry Staple Beef Kebab Marinade

You’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  •  1/4 cup soy sauce
  •  1/4 cup olive oil
  •  1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  •  1 tablespoon minced garlic
  •  1 tablespoon brown sugar
  •  2 tablespoons lemon juice
  •  1 teaspoon dried basil
  •  1 teaspoon dried parsley
  •  1 teaspoon black pepper

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published