Shish Kabobs. Shish-Kabobs. Shishkabobs. Shish Kebabs. Every variation is used just about equally, with “shishkebabs” coming in close behind. I guess that’s not surprising for something that’s been around as long as this has.
The first kebabs — and I can’t even write that without hearing it in Jamie Oliver‘s voice — were made by soldiers cooking meat by skewering it on their swords and holding it over camp fires. Well, that’s what the Arabic tradition says anyway. But like anything popular, everyone is trying to claim it.
There’s not much doubt where the name comes from, though:
So if I wanted to be really uptight about the terminology, then “Stickless Shish Kabob” literally means “skewered roast meat without the skewer”, and I should just call it “kebabs”. Okay, enough word games, it’s time for some meat.
1½ cups zesty Italian dressing
½ cup soy sauce
I used a tip roast for this. You could also use a chuck roast if that’s what you can find. This one had already been tied up by the butcher, so I had to cut the strings and pull them off.
In that second photo (click it for a larger view) you can see a white-ish membrane along the right side. That’s called “silverskin” and will stay tough and stringy no matter how long you cook the meat. I would prefer to let the butcher trim it off, but since it was already tied up I had to do it myself.
Once the strings and the silverskin are gone, slice about an inch thick across the grain, then into bite-size pieces.
You can see plenty of connective tissue marbled through this cut. All of that will melt while cooking and make for lip-smacking sticky goodness.
Combine the beef with the soy sauce and the Italian dressing and toss to coat.
Instead of a mixing bowl, you can toss this in a zip-top bag and let it marinate in the fridge overnight. Since I was cooking it the same day, I let it rest on the counter for an hour to marinate and come up to room temperature at the same time.
Prep the veggies
While the meat starts marinating, core and chop the peppers.
Split the onion in half …
… ewww, it’s got a bad layer in there. Pop that out and cut the onion into quarters.
Chop the stem off the zucchini and slice into half-inch pieces.
If that’s a little too big for bite-sized, split the zucchini in half lengthwise first.
Clean the mushrooms, cut the dry part of the stem off, and cut them into quarters.
When all the veggies are done, put everything except the onion and mushroom into a large mixing bowl. Dump the meat and all the marinade in and toss everything together.
Arrange the onions and mushrooms evenly in the bottom of a roasting pan.
A 9 x 13 casserole would probably work too, but you want something with tall sides. Pour the meat and veggies over the onions and mushrooms.
The “right” way to do this — the way cousin Heather does it — is to put the roasting pan up under the broiler. Every four or five minutes pull it out and toss with tongs or a spoon, so everything gets some time on top. This is why you need something with high sides, so you don’t fling hot meat all over the kitchen.
I already had some potatoes going that I had to keep an eye on, and I didn’t want to risk burning the kebab. So I put it in the oven at 450° with the convection on. If you’ve never used a convection oven, it speeds up the cooking time for nearly everything, but it’s not as touchy as being close to the broiler.
Toss it every four or five minutes, being careful not to break up the onions or mash the mushrooms.
It’s done when the meat is all browned nicely. Pull a test piece and make sure it’s done as well as you like.
The traditional way to serve kebab is with rice or couscous, and flatbread. Or just set it out on the table and get out of the way before the kids run you down going after the beef.
And that’s it.