Shish Kabobs for the Grill


There is so much that can be done on a grill, it is often hard to choose what to cook. Kabobs are a great choice for a few reasons. They are easy to prepare, they cook fairly quickly, you can combine the vegetables so you are only cooking one thing instead of two and, most importantly, they taste great.

Choose a meat that is good for grilling such as a tri-tip, sirloin or London broil.

Shish kabobs are pieces of meat skewered on sticks that may include vegetables and sometimes fruit. Some people insist on cooking the veggies on a separate skewer because they cook faster than meat. Others insist on combining them. Is there a right and wrong way? Nope, both ways will work, but if you are not a vegetarian and are going to eat both, then go ahead and cook them on the same stick.

The meat will pick up some of the veggies’ flavor while at the same time the veggies will pick up flavor from the marinade of the meat — if you decide to use a marinade. Also, the vegetables will often get soft and fall off the skewer as they cook and the meat can help slow down the cooking, as well as keep them on the stick like bookends.

Choose a meat that is good for grilling such as a tri-tip, sirloin or London broil. There is no need to use something as nice as a rib eye or tenderloin, although they would work. Stay away from cuts such as chuck and brisket because those are better braised. The beef should be cut into about 1-inch cubes.

You can season the kabobs or you can marinade them. If you use a marinade, the meat should be marinated separately from the veggies. You can marinade the meat for up to 8 hours but vegetables should only be marinated for half an hour tops.

I usually marinade the meat and let the veggies pick up the flavors of that marinade during cooking. When using the sirloin, tri-tip or London broil, the marinade will help tenderize the meat because it will start to break it down before you start to cook. The more expensive cuts are both tender enough and have enough flavors to cook using only seasonings.

Marinades are similar to vinaigrettes and you can use regular vinaigrette if you want. Marinades will have oil, some kind of acidic-like vinegar or red wine, herbs and seasonings. There can be sugar or other items, as well, and like vinaigrettes, you only need the basics, then mix and match other ingredients for fish or other things.

Try some of Chef Smitty’s other favorites for the grill:
Grilled Stuff Mushrooms
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Shrimp
Blackened Swordfish
Shrimp Scallop Kabobs
Grilled Trout

I like to use onion, bell peppers of different colors and mushrooms. I will also use zucchini and or yellow squash. These also should be cut into 1-inch pieces. When using the zucchini or squash, use the meaty outside portion and avoid the softer seeded center.

Soak the wooden skewers before assembling the kabobs. Start with a piece of meat and then a veggie or two thin veggies and then meat. Repeat.

I like to put all the veggies on the inside with meat on the ends to help hold them on. Grill them for about 3 minutes on one side and then turn them over and grill the opposite side about the same time. Rotate onto one of the uncooked sides if they need more time and then the last side, if not done. They should not really take too much time to cook. Whether you only season or marinade your meat, the next time you’re trying to decide what to grill, try a shish kabob and enjoy.

Shish Kabob
1 lb. meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 bell peppers of different colors, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 red onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 whole small or medium mushrooms

Marinade the beef for up to 8 hours. Skewer the pieces alternating meat with the veggies and ending with a piece of meat. Grill about 3 minutes and then turn over for another 3 minutes. Rotate onto one of the uncooked sides if more cooking time is necessary and then go to the fourth side if needed.

½ C peanut oil
¼ C red wine
3 T soy sauce
3 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T Dijon mustard
3 T brown sugar
2-3 bay leaves
1 t dry basil
1 t dry thyme
1 large clove garlic, chopped
A few drops chili oil


Chef Smitty

Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. Smitty has been teaching skiing at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows for more than 26 years each winter, and spends his summers working for High Sierra Waterski School since 2000. Smitty has been writing his chef column for Tahoe Weekly since 2005.