Skewers, kebabs, kabobs, food on a stick, whatever you want to call them, these stacked treats are a delicious way to cook a variety of different foods on your grill. But, what type of skewer should you choose? What are the best foods to layer together? And, how can you mix and match successfully? Keep reading for five tips and tricks for skewer grilling.
Wood Versus Metal
In the great wood versus metal debate, there are people on both sides. Some prefer wood skewers because they can be picked up off the grill without burning your fingers, and might give a wood-burned flavor to your food. However, wood skewers can catch fire (even after soaking them), are not reusable and sometimes even splinter onto your food if you choose thin, flimsy sticks. With metal skewers, you can reuse them and there’s no risk of burning or splintering, but they are hot to the touch and can burn your fingers when you take them off the grill. If you have solid, hearty wood skewers that won’t burn or splinter, the benefits slightly outweigh the risks of the hot metal.
If you’re cooking foods that have a tendency to spin, like zucchini or shrimp, or delicate foods like salmon, it’s best to double up your skewer to keep them flat on the grill. It’s slightly easier to do this with a double prong metal skewer since they generally have one handle, but with sturdy enough wood skewers placed about a half-inch apart in your hands, you should be able to double skewer anything you’re cooking quickly and easily.
Strategically Mix & Match
There’s nothing worse than taking a skewer off the grill only to realize your onions are raw and your fish is overcooked. To maximize your skewer grilling potential, place foods that cook at the same rate on the same skewer. Pairing your longer cooking meats and vegetables together and your faster cooking seafood and herbs together not only is more efficient, but can also help add more variety to your meal. It helps if you cut all your ingredients in the same size and shape with space in between the items to ensure they all cook thoroughly and equally.
Experiment With Flavors
Almost anything you can stick on a stick, you can grill on your grill. Try adding fresh herbs in between your meat on a skewer to imbue some flavor. And, after you’ve grilled skewers for dinner, there’s a whole world of grilled desserts you can experiment with! Try a grilled skewered pineapple or peach/banana combination over ice cream for the perfect end to a skewer-filled meal.
Practice Makes Perfect
Just like anything in life, the best way to get better at grilling skewers is practice. Before long you’ll have new favorite combinations and techniques you’ll want to show off all year long. Experimenting with ingredients, marinades and different skewer types is just one of the many ways you can raise your "BARB-IQ" this summer.
Be as Cool as the Other Side of the Grill
Get both a crisp sear and the tenderness of low and slow cooking at the same time by setting up a two-zone fire. Put all your coals on one side or only light half of the gas burners. Start by cooking a few skewers on the hot side until they have a good color, then move them to the cooler side for the perfect finish.
Don’t let summer storms or excessive heat stop you from skewering. You can make your chicken kabobs in the oven or your beef kebabs on the broiler. If you’re using wood skewers, soak them like you would outdoors and make sure to check the appropriate internal temperature.
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