When selecting the type of beef to make shish kebabs you have unlimited choices. You want your beef on the skewer to be tasty and tender, but a cut that won't break your budget.
Origins of Shish Kebab
The term shish kebab hails from Turkey—the word shish translates to skewer in English, and kebab basically refers to meat, vegetables, or other ingredients served on a stick. While shish kebab may have Turkish roots, the concept is common all over the Middle East.
Beef, lamb, seafood, chicken, and goat are all served on a stick. Vegetables are often placed on the skewer, but in the Middle East, shish kebab is often just meat. It's an easy, economical, and traditional way of cooking meat.
Top of the Line
The best cut of beef for kebabs is filet mignon. Other beef options include Porterhouse, and if it looks good at the butcher or in the meat counter. try a rib-eye. They all grill nicely and don't require a marinade to make them tender. While those cuts meet the criteria of tasty beef, they will take a chunk out of your wallet.
If you are looking for easy preparation, great taste, and have an unlimited budget, go for the filet mignon. You will not be disappointed. On a side note, tenderloin/filet mignon is best served rare or medium rare. If you like your beef well done, do not waste your money on tenderloin because you are destroying the flavor by overcooking your beef.
Less Expensive Beef
If you are on a budget, sirloin tips work well if they are marinated. This will make them more flavorful. Sirloin is great if you like steak well done also. Ideally, you should start marinating sirloin the night before or in a pinch, at least a few hours before firing up your grill.
You can also buy large sirloin steaks and have the butcher cut your selection into 1-inch cubes for your kebabs. It's usually free for the butcher service, even at grocery stores, and will save you some prep time.
Other Beef Cut Options
While chuck steaks or chuck roast can be chewy at best and downright tough when cooked quickly as a standalone meat selection, using citrus in a marinade for chuck helps break down the muscle in the meat, turning a relatively inexpensive type of beef into a tasty and tender chunk of beef on a stick. Create marinades made with oranges, lemons or limes, which also infuse taste into your beef.
Although beef remains one of the main choices when selecting meat for kebabs, don't limit yourself. Consider using other meats, such as chicken, lamb, and even seafood. Avoid choosing more than one type of meat or even different cuts of the same type of meat on individual skewers because of varied cooking times.