Stick It on the Grill

The term “shish kebab” comes from the Turkish words meaning “skewer” and “roast meat.”

Originating in the Middle East; kebabs were a simple solution for nomadic tribes who carried no cooking utensils. They marinated meat not only to tenderize, but also to get rid of some of the gamey flavor that is common in wild animals.

Today, shish kebabs have expanded into most cultures. In Oriental cuisines they make satay, which is roasted meat or chicken on a stick; served with a dipping sauce. In France, they are called brochettes, meaning “skewer.” Brochettes often combine poultry or meat with vegetables. In Greece they’re called souvlaki and are usually made of lamb.

Whichever name you choose, this tasty “dinner-on-a-stick” is easily cooked on a grill and served hot or at room temperature. Kebabs can be prepared in advance, making it a perfect crowd-pleaser while keeping you out of the kitchen so you can enjoy your guests.

You can even make dessert kebabs. Fruit on a stick is easy to grill and serve with a scoop of ice cream. Let your imagination run wild with different combinations and marinades.

There are a few types of skewers you can use when making kebabs. Stainless steel skewers are reusable and easy to clean. But they tend to get very hot so be careful when removing them from the grill. If you use wooden skewers, it is best to soak them in water for about 15 minutes before use because they can easily catch fire if they are directly over a hot grill.

Regardless of what type of skewer you use, be sure to apply a light coat of oil before threading vegetables and meat. Your meats and veggies will easily slide off.

Honey Chicken Kebabs

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves — cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 small onions, cut into eighths
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • skewers (soaked, if you’re using wood)

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, honey, soy sauce, and pepper. Pour the marinade into a large zip-type bag.

Before adding chicken, reserve a small amount of marinade to brush onto kabobs while cooking. Place the chicken, garlic, onions and peppers in the bag and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours. Preheat the grill for high heat.

Drain marinade from the chicken and vegetables, and discard marinade. Thread chicken and vegetables alternately onto the skewers.

Lightly oil the grill grate with an oil-dampened paper towel or a grill brush. Place the skewers on the grill. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until chicken juices run clear. Turn and brush with reserved marinade and grill 5 minutes longer. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Vegetable Kebabs

  • 12 small red potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 12 large mushrooms
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat grill to medium heat. Lightly oil the grill grate with an oil-dampened paper towel or a grill brush.

Peel a thin strip around the center of each potato and place in a saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 6-8 minutes until potatoes are barely tender. Drain well. Cut each onion into 6 wedges. Seed bell peppers and cut each into 6 wedges.

Stir together oil, garlic, salt and herbs in a small bowl. Thread vegetables onto 12 skewers and grill 4-6” from medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Brush kabobs frequently with dressing and turn frequently, until vegetables are tender. Serve warm or room temperature.

Many ingredients are prone to infestation. Please consult a local Rav for specific guidelines on how to avoid transgressions related to insects.

Readers may submit questions to the Culinary Connoisseur, c/o Hamodia, 207 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11230 or via e-mail to This weekly column has been brought to you by The Peppermill, the world’s first kosher kitchenware store, located at 5015 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. (718) 871-4022. You can also read a selection of previous columns in their comprehensive cookbook, The Culinary Connoisseur, available now at your local Judaica and kitchenware stores. Jam-packed with delicious recipes, insightful food information and helpful cooking tips, this book is certain to become your constant companion in the kitchen.