Beef Shish Kebab

Years ago, my family would attend these huge picnics where hundreds of Greek families would gather at a park somewhere north of Toronto. Anyone remember Green River? 101 International Park? Each family would pack coolers with provisions for the day: soft drinks, water, beer and wine, salads, rice, Spanakopitas, Tyropitas, bread, cheeses and lots of fruit like watermelon, canteloupe and grapes.

The car trunk filled up pretty quickly and one could never forget the stand-up round grill or smaller hibachi, charcoal, lighter fluid and the protein of choice for the day. The centerpiece of the day’s feast was the BBQ. I remember  my dad in shorts, no shirt and getting dirty from handling the charcoal and lighting the BBQ. Newspaper, lighter fluid and matches. A vigorous wave over the smoking coals would give way to a plea for the man’s arms to rest and for the the charcoal to morph into glowing embers.

Once the BBQ situation was under control, it was grilling time. Beef shish kebab it was, usually. I remember these big cubes of beef that my mom would marinade overnight in a concoction that surely contained one of my uncle’s rough n’ ready red wine. There was garlic, there was onions, seasoning and likely the will of the Greek cook who finds nothing wrong with throwing oregano into everything!

I’ve longed for this beef shish kebab for awhile and the time is here. Tomorrow is Canada Day (Canada turns 143) and my American friends follow with July 4th celebrations this weekend. Allow me to share and recommend trying this recipe the next time you light up your grill. The marinade is easy, you get to use some more economical cuts of beef as the marinade will do some of the work for you and some simple skewering of vegetables and beef on metal or wooden skewers is all that’s needed.

A beef shish kebab benefits the most by not overdoing it. The marinade consists of few ingredients – ones that complement beef’s flavour. You have diced onions, minced garlic, a touch of honey, sweet paprika, black pepper, fresh thyme or oregano (try and avoid using dry as it may burn and become bitter), red wine, olive oil and some good beef stock. My family always has some roast beef jus frozen from leftovers. It comes in handy for stews, making gravy or for a shish kabob marinade. Combine all these ingredients together, add just enough salt (if needed at all) to adjust taste and reserve about a 1/4 of the marinade for brushing on your kabobs at the end.

What you end up with are tender but still toothsome pieces of beer with a hint of flavour from the vegetables that are sandwiched in between each cube of beef. You can still taste the wine, a bit of garlic, some onion, some pepper, that fresh Greek oregano and the hint of smoky goodness that only a grill can give. The beef shish kebabs are cooked over high heat (the beef can take it) and the vegetables will cook in the same time that it takes you to grill all the sides of the kebabs.

Your choice of beef is at your discretion. You don’t have to use the most expensive cut here and you shouldn’t use the cheapest either. This beef shish kabob recipe needs the marinade to give you the taste that I remember when I was  kid attending the Greek picnics. A sirloin is what I used for this recipe: it’s affordable, has fantastic flavour and the it’s hearty enough to withstand the marinade.

Your shish kebabs only need about 4-6 hours in the marinade. Don’t think that marinading overnight will garner a better result. I tried this years ago and found out my beef’s fibres had broken down too much and resulting meat was soft, almost mealy – unedible. Keep it simple, prepare the marinade, cube your beef and cut up your vegetables on the morning of the day you’re also going to grill.

I served the shish kebabs on a bed of rice baked with mushrooms. For four persons, you need one cup of long-grain rice, a cup of sliced mushrooms, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 1/2 cups of low sodium stock, pinch of black pepper and place in a pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Fluff the rice with a fork, reserve and keep warm. I served this beef shish kekab with a Tsantali Metoxi red.

Beef Shish Kebab

(serves 4)

approx. 1kg. of sirloin steak, trimmed of any fat and cut into 1-inch cubes

pieces of red, green peppers and onions, cut to the same diameter as the cubes of beef

metal or wooden skewers (soak the wooden skewers overnight in water)

coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Marinade

1/3 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. of honey

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups of low-sodium beef stock

1 cup red wine

1 Tbsp. sweet paprika

4 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano or thyme leaves

1/2 tsp. of black pepper

salt to taste

  1. Rinse and pat-dry your beef. Trim any excess fat and cut up into 1-inch cubes. In a large zip-lock back, add all of the marinade ingredinents and stir to blend. Adjust seasoning, ingredients to taste and reserve 1/4 of the marinade for basting on your shish kebabs later (the marinade should only have a hint of salt in it, as we will season the kabobs before they hit the grill).
  2. Place your cubes of beef in the marinade and seal. Ensure all the beef is covered with the marinade and place in the fridge for 4-6 hours. Remove from the fridge an hour before grilling so as to allow the beef to return to room temperature.
  3. Prepare your red and green peppers and onions for skewering. Cut the vegetable into the same size and dimension as the cubes of beef. Skewer a cube of beef then alternate with a different vegetable between each cube of beef. Repeat until all your kebabs and pieces of vegetable have been skewered. Discard the marinade in the bag.
  4. Pre-heat your gas of charcoal grill. We’re looking for a high heat (count to three when placing your hand over the grill). Brush the grill surface well and wipe the grill surface with a vegetable oil-treated towel just before grilling.
  5. Season your kebabs with coarse sea salt and some fresh ground pepper. Place on your hot grill and cook for 5 minutes/side or until all sides are seared with some good grill marks. Brush some of the reserved 1/4 marinade on your shish kebabs and plate on a bed of baked rice pilaf with mushrooms.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis

© 2010,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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31 Comments for “Beef Shish Kebab”

says:

Oh Peter, those are such delicious photos!
Yes, we had lots of shish kabobs…made with all kinds of meat and chicken. (I remember one particularly hideous recipe with chicken marinated in that orange bottled salad dressing.)
Your recipe is perfection. Yes to the red wine, but I’ve never added paprika. Great idea.

says:

Your memories of family picnics are very similar to mine…Greeks have this knack of gathering together and staritng bbq’s and laying out a spread of goodies!…LOL! That looks like one mean kebab (kabob??) Peter…great tips on marinading too. Enjoy Canada Day!

says:

Same concept, different meat — one of our members submitted a Marinated Greek Lamb Kabob recipe…this one’s marinated in yogurt, though.

http://mantestedrecipes.com/recipe/2761/marinated-greek-lamb-kabobs.aspx

Funny story — my Mom was born in Canada on July 4th…my grandmother mentioned that it was kind of a non-descript date. “Not to the Americans,” said grandpa. They emigrated to the US when she was two, and when she was little, she thought the fireworks were for her!

says:

As a neighbor from the northern Balkans, I like what I see, even though our preferred animal for kabobs is, of course, the divine pig. Here in SoCal we have a great source of good quality beef, and the only thing lacking is a charcoal grill (which we are not allowed to have – but, being a rebel, I am almost there in convincing my American husband to break the rules and get us a Webber). Summer is only going to get better, right?
Greetings from Cali!
Lana

says:

I can see where your love for BBQ comes from. your father, unbeknown to him, did a great job. Love the fact that you can use cheaper cuts for this delicious kebab!!!!

says:

Peter τι νόστιμο που φαίνεται!!
Και η μαρινάδα, απλή αλλά super!!
Να περάσεις πολύ όμορφα την Μέρα του Καναδά!
Φιλιά, καλό μήνα!

Elizabeth

says:

Looks wonderful – I love the marinade, especially that bit of honey to bring out the sweetness in the meat.

Speaking of meat…as an American, I always struggle with translating American and British meat recipes with the cuts that are commonly available in the Greek market. Any idea what the name in Greek would be for a suitable economical cut of meat for this recipe? Sirloin, whatever it is called here – and what IS its name? – is probably not “inexpensive”. And boy, would I just love it if someone could tell me what beef “flank steak” is called here in Greece….

says:

Peter, your words have me back to simpler, childhood times when my dad would grill outside although your food sounds like it was a whole lot tastier! But family barbecues are wonderful things and the food is always delicious! These kabobs are magnificent!

says:

Oh, Happy Canada Day! We celebrate neither 4th of July nor Bastille Day. Just our sons’ birthdays. :-) But I can’t wait to get to Florida in 2 weeks for a bbq or two.

says:

I am always skeptical about beef shish kebabs in Greece because beef is never aged properly and can be tough as hell. Marinating it might be a good way to solve that problem, but in Canada I am sure you can find nice tender meat. Yum!

says:

I have always had a weakness of beef shish kebab, our neighbor, when we grew up in Minnesota was Greek, and her cooking set the bar for me. One dish I always remember is her beef kebabs. This recipe is on the top 10 list to try as soon as possible. It sounds amazing.

Happy Canada Day!

says:

Beautiful presentation of shish kabob but what got me most was your recounting of the Greek picnics. It reminded me of my childhood when my family used to go the Spanish picnics in public parks with other families. There would be sports, music and all the traditional dishes. I miss those outings, but the tradition did not get passed down.