Outdoor Cooking: Kebab Tips

Originally posted at

Hailing from the mysterious sands of the Persian Empire comes a dish that is both stunning in presentation and simplistic in preparation.  It is also quite misunderstood.  Americans first became familiar with this food-on-a-stick under the name shish kebab and as time has worn on we have ditched half of the name.  Unfortunately we ditched the wrong half.  As it turns out shish means on-a-stick while kebab refers to seasoned meat cooked any number of ways most of which do not involve a stick.

Omaha Steaks Tenderloin KabobsBut like with Christopher Columbus misnaming chilies as peppers, the damage is already done.  For the rest of this post when I refer to kebabs I mean meat-on-a-stick.  Kebabs come in lots of variations including the original shish kebab, Italy’s spiedini and ultimately even the corn dog – a batter dipped, deep fried kebab although that is a pretty loose interpretation.

Now when most of us think of kebabs we think of a long sword like skewer with alternating bits of vegetable and protein.  That makes a striking display but it is not exactly sanitary, especially with poultry.  Cross contamination is a serious concern with kebabs.  You simply do not want raw chicken liquid getting on your vegetables.

That’s why food safety experts suggest cooking the protein all together and the vegetables on a separate skewer.  Sure it doesn’t look as nice but it also won’t have you reaching for the Imodium at 2 AM either.  If the presentation is that important to you then reassemble the skewers after everything has cooked.  Beef, lamb, duck and seafood do not carry nearly as much danger as chicken and turkey do.

Here are a few other tips for a successful kebab experience:

  • Be sure to marinate no less than 30 minutes and no longer than 24 hours.
  • Only marinate in the refrigerator to avoid food-borne bacteria.
  • Meats should be cut bite-sized (uniformly-sized 1 to 2-inch cubes) for quick and even cooking.
  • Fatty meats can be cooked at a higher temperature. Lean meats will need a longer time at a lower heat.
  • When using seafood, choose firm-textured fish (salmon, tuna, mahi mahi, swordfish, shark, etc.) and shellfish.
  • A light spray of cooking oil will help keep the kebabs from sticking. Turn the kebabs often for even cooking.

BBQ Tips from the Best in Smoke

A short film shot at the Hog Wild BBQ Festival in Mobile, AL. The film includes tips from big time BBQ competitors like Danielle Dimovski of Diva-Q and three time world champion Myron Mixon of Jack’s Old South, both starred on TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters.  Also included is an interview with Craig Orrison, father of Brad Orrison.  Brad, along with his sister Brook, opened The Shed Barbecue & Blues Joint in Ocean Springs.  Brad’s official title in the family business is HeadShedHed.  The Shed team will be appearing on Food Network’s Best in Smoke which premieres tomorrow night.  The film was shot by chef and food writer Stuart Reb Donald (hey, that’s me!) and should help get you ready for Memorial Day.

Memorial Day Grill: Grilled Game Hens

Memorial Day Grill is a series of video recipes to inspire you this grilling season.

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Food Network Grilling Week

Bobby Flay is back hosting Food Network Grilling Week to kick off the summer. He’ll be joined by the Neely’s, Guy and the whole FN crowd with BBQ themed episodes of your favorite shows including an epic Food Network Challenge that’s a battle of the sexes grill-off for charity and a handful of specials to boot.  The festivities runs May 30th-June 6th. Until then check out some of the highlights below:, Inc.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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