One of my favorite summer foods is shish kebabs. Tender meat combined with various vegetables, all grilled over a hot fire...it's just a simple, tasty dish that I love.
My favorite shish kebabs are chicken thigh or chicken breast, but beef, ground lamb, and pork chunks all work great as well. For veggies you can use just about anything but my top picks are green and yellow squash, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, pineapple, cherry tomatoes,
There are two main difficulties when making shish kebabs. The first is making sure the meat is perfectly cooked and the second is ensuring that the veggies are cooked properly at the same time.
There are several ways to solve this problem, including using low heat or separating the skewers into meat-skewers and veggie-skewers (for a great look at separating the skewers, I recommend this article by Two Healthy Kitchens). Using sous vide adds a third option that will always ensure you have perfectly cooked meat, pre-cooking the meat before grilling it.
The process is simple. First sous vide your meat to it's final doneness. I then like to chill the meat in an ice bath for 30 minutes to drop the temperature, allowing you a longer sear. You can also do this a day or two ahead of time and store the meat in the fridge.
Once the meat is chilled, you can prep all the shish kebab ingredients. Simply cut the meat and vegetables into bite-sized chunks, as close in size to each other as possible.
If you are planning on using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water while you are prepping the food. This will help to prevent them from buring during the cooking process.
Heat your grill to high so it will add a nice sear when you put the skewers on it.
Now you can make the shish kebabs by threading the meat and vegetables onto the skewers. You can either put them all together if you are a "one skewer" type of griller, or separate them into multiple skewers by type if you prefer.
Toss the shish kebabs on the grill, turning them as they begin to brown, until they reach the doneness you prefer. Once they are cooked through they are good to go!
For added flavor, you can baste the shish kebabs in BBQ sauce or glaze while you are grilling them, I often use my Bourbon Glaze or Honey Chipotle Glaze. If you prefer a lighter tasting kebab, you can simply brush it with oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper before finishing it with a drizzle of lemon juice once it comes off the grill.
Below is my recipe for some simple sous vide chicken thigh shish kebabs, but feel free to substitute whatever meat you prefer, just update the sous vide time and temperature to match the meat you are using. I prefer chicken thighs at 148°F (64.5°C) but they are usually good anywhere between 141°F to 156°F (60.5°C to 69°C). I cook them for around 2 to 5 hours, whatever is convienent (see why is there a range in sous vide cooking times for more information).
Ingredients for Shish Kebabs with Chicken Thighs
- 2-3 pounds chicken thighs
- Salt and pepper
- Favorite spice rub (optional)
- Cooked chicken thighs
- Mixed vegetables like onions, yellow and green squash, mushroom, etc
- Canola oil
- Salt and pepper
- BBQ sauce or glaze (optional)
- Olive oil
- 1 lemon
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Cooking Instructions for Sous Vide Shish Kebabs with Chicken Thighs
At least 2 to 5 hours before serving, or a day or two before
Preheat a water bath to 148°F (64.5°C).
Salt and pepper the chicken thighs, optionally adding a spice rub that you enjoy. Place the chicken thighs in a sous vide bag and seal. Cook the chicken thighs for 2 to 5 hours, until they are tender. For more information on the cooking times you can read my detailed article which addresses why is there a range in sous vide cooking times.
Once cooked, remove the sous vide bags from the water, and if time permits, chill in an ice bath for 15 to 30 minutes. This can be done several days ahead of time if the chicken thighs are refrigerated after they are chilled.
At least 30 minutes before serving, or up to several hours ahead of time
If using wooden skewers, soak them in water while prepping the food.
Prepare the meat and vegetables by cutting them into large, bite-sized chunks. Thread the meat and vegetables onto the skewers, either all together or in individual skewers based on type of vegetable.
This can be done several hours ahead of time if the completed skewers are refrigerated.
Preheat a grill to high.
Brush the skewers with canola oil then salt and pepper them. Cook the skewers on the grill, carefully turning them as they begin to char. If cooking with a glaze or BBQ sauce, brush it on before turning the skewers.
Once cooked, remove from the heat. Drizzle with olive oil and squeeze the lemon over the top then serve.