Super healthy turkey kebabs with finely spiced, tender turkey breast cubes. A very easy recipe for Turkish kebabs.
Kebabs generally, not only turkey kebabs, are always a hit at any grill party in Germany. Especially the kids prefer kebabs to steaks, for instance. OK, bratwurst might be the first choice for the children, but kebabs are always close behind.
I am not the grill master around here, that’s a job for my brother-in-law, but if I don’t cook the meat on the grill, it doesn’t mean that I don’t take a part in the whole process.
And my part is not only to make the salads and buy the bread, but also to find new ways of marinating meats, so that we don’t always eat the same (rather boring) already marinated meats that we can buy.
And because when grilling I prefer turkey or chicken to red meat, it is mostly these kind of meats that I get to take care of.
Not to mention that the butcher’s offer on marinated chicken and especially turkey is really not impressive around here, you can buy endless sorts of marinated pork, but poultry is just the same old 2 or 3 kinds over and over again.
That’s how I got to make these turkey kebabs for the first time. As I mentioned in a lot of posts featuring turkey meat, I always buy our turkeys from a farmer in the village, so my freezer is full with turkey meat most of the times.
And those huge turkey breasts are just perfect for making turkey kebabs or skewers! I usually cut them into reasonable pieces before freezing the meat and when ready to cook it, I just have to remember to take it out of the freezer in time and let it thaw slowly in the refrigerator.
The possibilities of using that delicious turkey breast meat are endless. Not only turkey kebabs, but also schnitzel baked in the oven (which my children absolutely adore), turkey curry, turkey meatballs or turkey meatball soup, which is one of my favorite soups ever!
But today we are making turkey kebabs.
WHAT ARE KEBABS?
Kebabs have their origins in the Middle Eastern cuisine and are basically various cooked meat dishes.
In English the word kebab refers to different kinds of meat cut into small pieces or ground, which are cooked on a skewer. However, in Turkey and Middle East the word kebab is used to describe a variety of meat dishes.
Kebabs have a very long history, we could say that the kebabs exist ever since fire was discovered. Archaeological excavations found stone supports for skewers, which were used before the 17th century BC, ancient Indian texts and Homer in his Iliad also mention pieces of roasted meats on spits (Wikipedia).
Kebabs are not only popular in Turkey, but in a lot of countries all over the Middle East, Asia and even some parts of Africa.
In Afghanistan, for instance, kebabs are made mostly with lamb, are spiced with lemony/sour spices like sumac or dried ground sour grapes and are served with Afghan naan bread.
The khorovats are a national dish in Armenia and consist of larger pieces of meat, mostly pork, grilled on flat skewers served with onions and peppers.
In Greece there is the gyros, which is widely popular in Germany as well, I cannot count how often I have eaten it… The pieces of meat are usually served in pita bread or as a gyros plate with fries, salad and tzatziki.
There are countless types of kebab to be found in India as well, for instance the seekh kebab, made with spicy ground meat formed into cylinders and then skewered or the tunde ke kabab, which is said to contain 160 spices.
There are also several types of kebab to be found in Iran as well, kebabs made with beef, lamb or chicken, often served with lavash bread, rice, grilled vegetables or various salads.
Kebabs are super popular in Israel as well, they are often made with spicy ground beef or lamb and are served in probably just about any restaurant.
And these are just a few examples, kebabs are a staple in many other countries, like Bulgaria, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, China and so on.
HOW TO MAKE TURKEY KEBABS?
The recipe for these particular turkey kebabs could not be easier, the “most difficult” part of it being to cut the turkey breast into very similar sized cubes.
That is important because you want that all the meat cubes make contact with the grill pan while cooking, so that all of them are cooked in the same time thus all of them remaining juicy and tender.
If some cubes are too large they will prevent the smaller cubes from touching the grill, so do make an effort to cut them all as evenly as you can. A good chef’s knife is what you need for this task.
When it comes to the spices used to make the marinade for the turkey kebabs, I have kept it rather simple, using spices that are to be found in most spice cupboards: salt, pepper, sweet ground paprika, dried thyme, vinegar and olive oil.
You can definitely go from here and add more spices or completely other spice combinations to your taste.
Marinade for the turkey kebabs:
- To make the marinade, grate the onion. Grating onions is not a task I enjoy (I “cry” a lot while doing it), but it is a necessary step. Give it to a bowl large enough to hold the turkey breast cubes.
- Add the salt, pepper, sweet paprika, dried thyme, vinegar and oil to the onions. Stir well.
- Cut the turkey breast into evenly sized cubes, of ca 4 cm/ 1.5 inches.
- Give the turkey cubes to the bowl and stir very well, making sure that all the meat pieces are coated with the marinade. Use your hands, it works best.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap/cling film and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
- Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking and let the turkey kebabs come to room temperature.
- In the meantime soak the wooden skewers in cold water, this will prevent them from burning. If using metal skewers, don’t soak them.
- Skewer the meat, about 4 cubes on each skewer. Brush them lightly with some olive oil. Sprinkle the turkey kebabs with some salt.
How to cook turkey kebabs in a grill pan:
- Heat the grill pan and brush it lightly with olive oil.
- When the pan is hot give some of the turkey kebabs to the pan, as many as they fit without touching each other.
- Cook for about 15 minutes, turning several times in between, making sure that all the sides make contact with the pan at one point or another.
- Check for doneness by cutting one piece of turkey meat in the middle.
- Grill the remaining turkey kebabs the same way.
HOW TO SERVE TURKEY KEBABS?
My favorite way of serving the turkey kebabs is with tomato cucumber salad or with a green salad. My children love to have some potato wedges on the side as well.
Otherwise, the sky is the limit!
Grate the onion. Give it to a bowl large enough to hold the turkey breast cubes. Add the sweet paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil to the onions. Stir well.
- Turkey kebabs:
Cut the turkey breast into evenly sized cubes, of ca 4 cm/ 1.5 inches.
Give the turkey cubes to the bowl and stir very well, making sure that all the meat pieces are coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap/cling film and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking and let come to room temperature.
In the meantime soak the wooden skewers in cold water, this will prevent them from burning.
Skewer the meat, about 4 cubes on each skewer. Brush lightly with some olive oil and sprinkle with a little extra salt.
Heat the grill pan, brush lightly with olive oil. Give some of the turkey kebabs to the pan, as many as they fit without touching each other.
Cook for about 15 minutes, turning several times in between, making sure that all the sides make contact with the pan at one point or another.
Check for doneness by cutting one piece of turkey meat in the middle.
Serve as suggested above.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1/6 of the recipe
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 239 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 100mg Sodium: 477mg Carbohydrates: 3g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 1g Protein: 38g