Hobnob With Kebobs

Many people love to grill a plate full of kebobs in the summer. They are quick and simple to prepare, and the variety of ingredients you can use is endless. But, too often, kebobs wind up dry, or the meat is overcooked while the vegetables are undercooked.

So, author and cooking teacher Tori Ritchie, along with other friends at Williams-Sonoma in New York City, shows viewers of The Early Show how to fix beef and vegetable kebobs.

For beef and vegetable kebobs, first of all, marinating the meat insures it won't be dry. Even a simple mixture of olive oil, salt and pepper will do the trick.

Add even more flavor to your meat by incorporating more ingredients into the marinade. Bottled salad dressing is an easy option. For the recipe shown on The Early Show, Ritchie marinated the meat in red wine, olive oil and spices. You want to cover the meat and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour, so it can truly absorb all of the marinade's flavors.

For your meat and vegetables to finish cooking at the same time, you need to keep a couple of things in mind. First, choose the right veggies, ones that are "sturdy" and will hold up well on the grill. Peppers and onions are classic kebob companions, while tomatoes, for example, fall apart quickly. Second, you want to cut the vegetables into uniform sizes. This helps them cook evenly and at the same rate as the meat.

Your grilling experience will be much more successful if you use the correct type of skewer. Look for metal skewers that are flat-edged, not round. The flat edges help prevent your pieces of meat from spinning when you turn the kebob.

It takes about 10 minutes on the grill for the beef to become medium-rare. Obviously, if you like your meat well-done, you'll have to cook it longer than that.

Lamb kebobs: You can use other types of skewers as well. Among Ritchie's favorites: rosemary branches. The fresh rosemary branch lends your meat a fabulous flavor as it cooks.

Simply buy a bunch of fresh rosemary at the market. Separate a few branches of rosemary, and strip off most of the leaves (except for a few at the very top of the branch). Thread three or four pieces of meat on the branch, and place on the grill. You don't have to worry about the branches catching fire on the grill, because they are naturally moist.

Seafood, such as shrimp and scallops, is another great kebob choice. As a matter of fact, shrimp and scallops are natural kebob ingredients. Both are quite small, so if they are simply tossed on the grill, they tend to fall through the grill's grate and onto the coals.

Chicken satay is a familiar menu item on Thai menus. Have you ever wondered why the chicken is called "satay" and not "kebob," even though it's cooked on a skewer? Well, it's because "kebob" is the Middle Eastern term for meats grilled on a skewer, while "satay" is the Indonesian term. And this dish is clearly Indonesian; the chicken is marinated in coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, cilantro and curry powder. Once cooked, it's dipped in a peanut sauce.