kebab

The grill is now back in the rotation, and recently beef kebabs were on the dinner menu. But which cut to use? Aidell & Kelly’s Complete Meat Cookbook is unequivocal: not the pre-marinated kebab meat from the grocery store cooler, because you don’t know what you’re getting. What you do want is a cut with a bit of chew and lots of beefy flavor, meaning something like skirt steak, top round, sirloin, tri-tip, or chuck steak. Or something more tender, like tenderloin.

I opted for a taste test comparing flank steak and top round steak, since that’s what the freezer yielded. (Tenderloin was not an option — you don’t get many of those, even with a quarter cow.) I sliced the flank thinly, cubed the top round, and both went into a gingery soy marinade overnight. Charlie skillfully undergrilled the beef just slightly, and we dug in with our friends Mark and Alice, both discerning omnivores. Accompaniments included a peanut sauce and a spicy mango sauce.

The verdict? The cubed top round was assertively beefy in flavor and just a bit chewy. The flank was wonderfully tender but tasted as much of marinade as it did of beef. The consensus was that a smarter investigator would have pitted sliced top round against sliced flank, or cubed vs. cubed. But you wouldn’t go wrong with either cut of beef or angle of cut, even if the cubed meat was more kebab-like than the squiggly slices. Me, next time I’ll be slicing the meat and marinating less, for better tenderness and preserved beefy flavor.

And no need for so many sauces — the kebabs are good enough that sauces are almost an afterthought.

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