1. Choose the Right Skewers
When selecting the perfect skewers, you’ll come across a surprising number of options. There’s bamboo, stainless steel, flat, round, and so many other choices to make. Generally speaking, bamboo skewers are better suited for grilling smaller items like chicken bites. Don’t forget to soak the skewer in water for about two hours before arranging it over the fire. If you’re grilling larger meats and veggies, it’s best to use a sturdy metal skewer so it can carry both the heat of the grill and the weight of the ingredients. Plus, they are really easy to clean.
2. Chop and Dry the Ingredients in Advance
Making the perfect plate of skewered meat and veggies takes time and preparation. Prep your ingredients in advance by chopping the meat, veggies, fish, and fruits into equally sized pieces (that are bigger than the slats in your grill grates). Before cutting the meat and before putting it on the grill, pat it dry. This will create a beautiful brown crust.
3. Marinate and Season Generously
Before arranging the meat on your skewers, marinate it generously. You can use a dry rub or prepare a liquid marinade to soak the meat cubes. Let it sit at least for half an hour, and don’t be shy to experiment with several different marinades.
4. Keep Cooking Times in Mind When Skewering
There is a right and a wrong way to thread skewers. The right way is to combine ingredients with similar cooking times. That way everything will cook evenly. The second most important “secret” is to leave some space between ingredients so everything can cook evenly (¼ to ½ inch is perfect). If your meat cubes get too crowded on the skewer, the heat can’t circulate evenly, and you’ll end up with food that is overcooked at the end and undercooked in the middle.
5. Build Hot and Cool Zones in the Grill
To have perfectly cooked skewers, make sure to build a fire with hot and cool zones in your charcoal grill (if you have a gas grill with more than one burner, you can achieve the same result). Start the skewers in the hot area to get them crusty and sizzling, and then move them to the cooler zone to allow them to cook through.
6. Check the Meat Temperature
While many self-proclaimed grill masters ignore the use of thermometers, it’s still the safest way to ensure your meat is properly cooked at the right temperature. Perfection is worth every bit of effort to achieve it, wouldn’t you agree? The USDA advises pulling beef off the grill when it reaches 145°F degrees, seafood at 145°F, and chicken at 165°F. Veggies and fruits are done when they are tender to the touch and seared outside.
7. Pair the Skewers With Simple Sides
Don’t go overboard on the sides for your skewers. As long as the tastes complement each other, even a single side ingredient is enough to bring out the perfect flavor. You can go traditional with corn on the cob or tap into your adventurous side and pair pork skewers with grilled peaches, for example. You won’t regret it!