Despite repeated tries with different meats - all cut into identical bite-sized pieces so they will cook evenly - I have yet to produce a kebab that wasn't a mix of tough, overcooked bites, raw bites, and a similar mix of raw and burnt vegetables. Does anyone have tips to successfully grill a kebab? It always seems like such a great, one-plate-minimal-cleanup meal and I always end up with the same inedible mess. Would love some thoughts before I give up completely.
To combat toughness, marinade. For a long time. With plenty of acid in the marinade. The other trick is to cut your pieces well, and try and cut against the grain as much as possible. Trim off all the gristle and tough bits mercilessly. And don't go crazy with direct heat. Slow it down and get a nice even heat. Of course, move the skewers around so they all spend time on the hotter parts of the grill.
And if that fails, notice that many, many kebabs use ground meats. We all-American grill types frown and look down the end of our noses at lowly ground meat. But it is a hell of a lot easier to mix in the spices, marble the meat and balance the fat content. And it is way easier to achieve a nice tender, juicy aromatic result.
The uneven cooking time problem is a big one.
First, don't mix your meats. The kebab timing has to be driven by the meat cooking time. Everything else is built around that. Second, don't cram. Leave a little room for heat and steam to penetrate to the center of the veggies. Third, oil your veggies during assembly. The oil will help (a little) distribute the heat inward. Finally, baste well to help steam the veggies. You'll be turning the kebabs pretty frequently, right? Make sure you baste frequently too.
You can't make a kebab of mixed meat and vegetables and expect all the individual items to cook at the same rate. What you should do and I know it doesn't look as impressive is to cook each individual item separately. This will ensure even cooking. Alternately, you could try par-cooking some of the longer to cook items, like onions in advance and them put them on the skewers. It's not something I would do but I suppose it would work.