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We cut beef stew into one inch cubes and pierce them on a stick with cherry tomatoes, onions, green peppers, etc, and grill them nicely.

The meat is brown and grilled on the outside, pinkish in the middle, vegetables are grilled, but the meat ends up being not so tender.

How can I make the Shish Kabobs tender?

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Many varieties of kabob (other than shish) actually use ground meat as opposed to whole pieces. Think of it like moulded meatballs on a skewer. The grinding has the benefit of helping break down any connective tissue in the meat, which will prevent chewiness. It also allows you to more easily flavor the interior of the meat without resorting to long marination/brining. –  ESultanik Aug 11 '11 at 13:05

6 Answers 6

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Using a cut of meat without too much connective tissue will definitely help. Talk to your butcher about good options. Stew meat isn't the best choice; it contains a lot of connective tissue which breaks down during the long, slow stewing process. Grilling is too hot and quick to break down that tissue. If you do grill stew meat, lower temperature and longer cooking time may help some, but in that case you'll probably want to do the veggies separately.

A good marinade will help. You can add some meat tenderizer, or make fresh pineapple juice one of the marinade ingredients. Pineapple contains an enzyme that'll break down some of the connective tissue, but it has to be fresh -- canned juice will have been heated, destroying the enzyme.

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Totally agree with above. Start with a more tender cut of meat. The easiest option is to buy meat that is inherently tender. Most marinates do more "sealing" of the exterior of your meat than breakdown of connective tissue. So your meat is juicier after grilling but not necessarily more tender. Meat tenderizer may work - I have never used it. I have jacquard "tenderizer" with 20 or so tiny razor blades that I use to tenderize tougher cuts for grilling - it is a dream. –  Jen Aug 10 '11 at 17:00

Also, they aren't as pretty with this strategy, but I've begun skewering my shish kabobs more in line with cooking time than for aesthetics. So I will skewer all my meat together...

This would allow you to cook your meat kabobs seperately and only until they are cooked rather than trying to get everything on the kabob to cook at the right time. Admittedly, I know once you get really good at this, it's totally doable (to cook it all on the same skewer), but I'm not there, and it might make your life easier as well...

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We do this as well. Might not be so aesthetically pleasing, but the textures are way better. –  justkt Aug 10 '11 at 18:57

a proper marinade helps, but if you want juicy soft meat there is no substitute for fat. The meat must have marbling and not come from an old animal. Also, scoring the meat before marinading helps the liquid penetrate.

tenderizing chemicals like pinapple juice or papaya do work, but they can leave you with a mushy texture - not very appetizing. Experiment before you get a nickname and a place in the family history...

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I have found a pin style meat tenderizer (before you cube or marinade the meat) to be very helpful in using a cuts that might otherwise prove "too chewy".This model is on Amazon.

screenshot

Once penetrated by this type of tenderizer a good marinade (BEER) will work wonders on those connective tissues.

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A Jaccard is great for tenderizing meat, however, that is really the only thing that would be breaking down the connective tissues. Unless you let the meat sit in a very acidic marinade for a very long time (weeks), or unless the marinade contains some type of enzymatic tenderizer (e.g., papaya), the marinade is only going to add flavor. –  ESultanik Aug 11 '11 at 12:59
    
@ESultanik I have read both that beer (as a marinade) will or wont tenderize beef. This link claims that it will. My experience suggests that when I marinade in beer (for even just a few hours) the meat is more tender, but maybe it is just with a little beer I don't care as much :o). –  Cos Callis Aug 11 '11 at 13:58
    
I've heard both claims as well. There is no dispute that strong acids will break down connective tissue, however, academic research has shown that relatively low-acid liquids like beer and vinegar have no tenderizing effect: "Results of this work indicate that acid marination with 0.1 to 0.5 M of the three analyzed acids had no effect on tenderness." –  ESultanik Aug 11 '11 at 14:19
    
That study concluded that the best way to tenderize via acid marination was to use highly acidic (0.75 to 1.5 molarity) lactic or acetic acid for a period of fourteen days. –  ESultanik Aug 11 '11 at 14:27
    
Having done a great deal of "less-than-academic" research into the effects of beer I can categorically say "I enjoy my shish kabobs more when marinated in beer." –  Cos Callis Aug 11 '11 at 14:33

try marinating stewing beef in your favorite marinade...then sprinkle some coffee grounds into it. mix thouroughly. i did this last week...marinated in the fridge for a day. the tough cut was sooooo tender and cooked quickly with the veggies. i sliced the stew beef in at least half to get quarter inch thick pieces. my buddy was amazed....as was i.

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Another option is to cook the meat low and slow. Once the meat is tender, let it cool in the fridge.

Once it's cooled, you can skewer it on to the shish (or is it the kabob?). The high heat will now caramelize the outside and warm the inside.

At least in theory.

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It is the shish :) the kabob is the cooked meat. –  rumtscho Jul 13 '12 at 14:48
    
@rumtscho: Oh, good, should have Gooo**gled that :-) –  BaffledCook Jul 13 '12 at 14:54

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