Wed Jul 9, 2008
A kabob is only as good as the meat you put into it, and I've found kabobs are pretty particular with the meats they like. So I have another addition of Meat Tips, and a continuation of the kabob craziness, to help make sure you're buying the right meat to ensure skewer success.
Choosing Meat for Kabobs
Meat cubed. To start, you're going to want a meat you can uniformly cube. I stay away from pre-cubbed kabob meats, because you don't always know exactly what they are and cutting your own cubes will make sure you're getting the best and freshest product. I usually cube my kabobs into 1" cubes, so I'm looking for a piece of meat cut at least 1" tall. Making sure you have uniform size cubes ensures that all pieces of meat on the skewer will be done at the same time.
Look Lean. For kabobs I almost always choose a lean cut of meat. This reasoning behind this is two fold. First, lean meat is easiest to chew off a stick; I find fatty pieces hard to rip with your teeth and take too much time to chew until you get to the next piece. Secondly, lean meat usually takes on the flavor of marinades well, and I almost always marinate my kabob meat.
Take them for a bath. As I was saying, I like to marinate my kabob meats. This brings a lot of flavor to the meat and also adds just enough moisture to help keep it alive over the high heat.
The following recommendations are for kabob meat that you intend to cube and marinate. I take no responsibility for the dry, tasteless kabobs you make sans-marinade.
Beef. For beef I go with sirloin. Sirloin steaks are usually cut about an inch thick to begin with, have little fat, and have a beefy flavor a little more delicate than other cuts. This allows you to get the full flavor of the marinade with a nice underlying beefiness that isn't over powering.
Chicken. I said I'm over skinless boneless chicken breast, but kabobs are an instance that I still find good use for them. They are rather tasteless, and tend to dry out, which makes them perfect candidates for a marinade. I find that chicken will end up tasting the most like the marinade than other meat you can choose.
Pork. The tenderloin is kabob champion for pork. It comes in a great size for cubbing, and once you trim off just a little excess fat and silverskin from the outside, the whole cut is pure lean meat all the way through. The tenderloin also stays, um...welll, tender on the grill.
Lamb. Lamb ranges the spectrum from cheap and tough, to expensive and tender, so as an affordable middle ground, I go for the shank end of the leg. There will be some extra removal of sinew and fat from this cut, but the little work is well rewarded with kabobs that have a deep, rich flavor.