Despite the flowery oriental legends that add to its charm, kebab is actually quite a simple and economical dish. This is just minced meat baked on the grill, let's call a spade a spade. The maximum that is required of him is to be soft and juicy. And most importantly, it’s shameful not to fall off the skewer onto the coals.
Of course, kebab has its own tricks, especially chicken, which, on the one hand, is the most unpretentious, and on the other, since the chicken itself is not very expressive, the cook will have to try to make the kebab really tasty.
“In my opinion, all those tambourine dances that are arranged around kebabs in restaurants are a show, not a cookery. There is, for example, a strong belief that minced meat for kebab must be chopped by hand, otherwise it will turn out somehow wrong. Moreover, no one specifies what exactly will be wrong with him, letting in mystery.
I myself only once saw that a kebab was actually chopped with a knife, on the tour of some oriental chef. He went out into the hall, very nicely chopped a couple of servings of kebab with a large cleaver, and then turned all the rest of the meat in the kitchen through a meat grinder. Believe me, no one felt the difference between manual minced meat and minced meat from a meat grinder. They also say that minced meat must be put on a red-hot skewer, otherwise it will fall into the fire ... But this is also some kind of shamanism, the desire to squeeze the maximum entertainment out of a simple recipe.
If the minced meat is properly cooked and mixed, nothing bad will happen to the kebab. But here it is important to fill your hand, especially for chicken, which is difficult to make expressive. Chicken is not lamb, it is a cheap product of in-line quality.
Therefore, here is the first trick for you: you need to freeze the chicken for minced meat. Even if you bought it chilled. Freeze, then let thaw slowly in the refrigerator. Why is this needed? Almost all chicken meat that hits the counter has excess moisture. If you cook minced meat from fresh chicken, it will float completely. And so, having thawed, the chicken will give off excess moisture, which you then simply drain from the bowl.
Second: you can’t make a delicious kebab from chicken breasts. Therefore, choose - either you are on a diet and eat boiled breasts, or fry a delicious kebab. The main raw material in chicken kebab is not the breast, but the thigh, it is richer and juicier. Plus, I always add a little fat separately to the minced meat, pork or beef - it doesn’t matter. Fat is the best conductor of flavor, and neutral chicken mince gets its own expressiveness from it. Noah's Ark branded kebab is prepared from such minced meat: 200 grams of chicken breast fillet, 500 grams of chicken thigh fillet (all chicken parts must be without skin), 150 grams of fat and 150 grams of onion are taken per 1 kilogram. For my taste, the proportions are perfect: the kebab will not dry out, but it will not be too greasy either. As for spices, besides salt and literally a drop of black pepper, minced chicken does not require anything. Bright spices kill the chicken, but this, again, is a matter of taste.
The third thing to remember: the less you mince the mince, the better. It heats up from the hands, the fat melts, the structure is broken, the result is that the fat flows out and the kebab turns out to be dry. What should not be done? Press on the meat so that the minced meat climbs out of the meat grinder faster. Knead the minced meat with open palms (I will show you how to knead it correctly) and beat it with force on the board. The last technique works well with lamb, which has refractory fat, it does not work at all with chicken - on the contrary, injuring the minced meat with blows on the board, you will make it rubbery, flat and hard.
Fourth: before being put on skewers, the minced meat must stand at least a couple of hours in the refrigerator. What to do if the brazier is twenty kilometers from the nearest housing and there is no refrigerator? I share a life hack: take a thermal bag for food, throw 5–6 ice cans of beer at the bottom. And on top put marinated shish kebab and minced meat for kebab, sealed in bags. Then the blanks will reach their destination in the required temperature regime, and you will have both beer and a snack in the kit.
Fifth: the speed when sculpting kebabs is very important, for us, again, it is important that the meat does not have time to warm up in our hands. Therefore, do not try to perfect the shape of kebabs on the first try, making grooves and ledges perfectly parallel. This will definitely come with experience, but now speed is more important than thoroughness. But what must be done is to pinch the kebab around the edges, sticking the minced meat to the skewer well so that the juice remains inside during frying and does not drain onto the coals.
Finally, the most important thing is how the kebab is eaten. A cooled kebab is no longer a kebab. Therefore, before serving, it is better to cover his nakedness with something - a sheet of pita bread or a lid, it does not matter, just so that it does not cool down. To eat a kebab, especially chicken, you need twenty minutes, no more. Then the kebab will deflate, become stiff and turn from a magical fiery food into a dull cutlet. Therefore, as soon as the kebab is put on the table, you should put aside conversations and toasts and enjoy only kebab.
Freeze chicken (breast fillet - 200 g, thigh fillet - 500 g) in advance. And the day before you fry kebabs, transfer from the freezer to the refrigerator and let thaw for 4-5 hours. If even frozen pieces remain in the meat, it's okay, the chicken will still give out the main liquid. Drain any water that has formed in the bowl.
Cut out the coarsest fragments of connective tissue from the fillet - for example, between the thigh and lower leg. You can leave small veins, as well as subcutaneous fat.
Cut the fillet into small pieces, arrange them in one layer on the board, salt (heavy), pepper (just a little bit) and mix. You need to salt any meat before putting it into a meat grinder, then the seasonings will be more evenly distributed over the minced meat.
Fat (pork or beef - 150 g) and onion (150 g) arbitrarily cut into small pieces, just to make it convenient to put them in a meat grinder.
Pass the chicken, fat and onion through a meat grinder with a large grate. In no case do not press on the meat when scrolling: this way you destroy the structure and squeeze out the juice. Then proceed from what kind of kebab you like: if it is more textured, with pieces, then leave the minced meat as it is (but keep in mind that it will be more difficult to sculpt kebabs from large-caliber minced meat). If you like a smoother, homogeneous, cutlet mass, then separate exactly half of the minced meat and pass it through a meat grinder again, and then mix both calibers of minced meat together. In any case, it’s not worth chopping minced meat through a fine grate: no one likes a kebab that looks like a homogeneous baby puree.
Now the most difficult thing: the minced meat needs to be kneaded so that it warms up as little as possible in the process. It is important to understand the principle here: knead the minced meat not like dough, covering and kneading with the whole palm, but move the minced meat from the edges to the middle with the edge of the palm, as if collecting the mass into a ball. Place a container of water near the bowl with minced meat and, periodically dipping your palm into it, knead the minced meat in this way for about 3 minutes. It doesn’t take longer: it won’t become softer, but it will have time to warm up, which is always bad.
Check if the goal is achieved: collect the minced meat in a handful and lightly pull. If the minced meat does not crumble back into the bowl, but stretches slightly, like a khinkali skirt, then it is time for it to rest. Put the minced meat in the refrigerator for at least an hour, and preferably overnight. The longer it stays cold, the better.
Form kebabs from well-chilled minced meat: take 100 grams of minced meat for each skewer: then the kebab will turn out not so thin to dry out, but not too thick so as not to bake, but just right.
Do not forget to dip your palms in water, put a piece of minced meat on the skewer and shape it. It is done like this: sliding the palm of your hand over the skewer, you make equidistant grooves on the minced meat with your thumb and forefinger, and with the other three fingers you do not allow the minced meat to protrude and even out the shape of the kebab. It is necessary to act quickly: the less minced meat is in contact with the warmth of the hand, the better for it. Why do kebabs have such a corrugated shape? I answer: the grooves allow the meat to fry faster and more evenly, and the bulges keep the juice inside.
A very important step that is often overlooked is to seal the kebab so as not to lose a drop of juice. It's very simple: pinch off the very ends of the kebab with your fingers on both sides, while carefully sticking the edges of the minced meat to the skewer.
Grill kebabs on well-burnt coals at medium heat of the grill. First let the minced meat set and whiten on one side, then turn the kebab over and let it set on the other side.
Now the kebab from the skewer will not fall anywhere, and you just have to fry it until a uniform golden brown, turning it over three or four times. This will take 5-6 minutes for a chicken kebab (mutton kebab will take 2 minutes longer to cook).
But that's not all: it is important to carefully remove the kebab from the skewer and serve it beautifully. Do not pull the kebab off the skewer in one fell swoop - it will definitely break. Remember, we specially sealed the edges of the minced meat so that they fry to the skewer. Now you need to print them: first, pull the kebab towards you, peeling it off the skewer on one side, then in the opposite direction, peeling off the minced meat on the other side, then the kebab will easily slide off the blade. Just take care of your hands - protect them from the heat with a towel or the same pita bread (by the way, lavash soaked in meat juice will become even tastier).
In the restaurant we serve kebab on thin Armenian lavash, with green onions, olives, hot peppers and homemade adjika. It seems to us that it is tasty and beautiful, but, of course, everyone can choose the serving for themselves.