Buying a nice new barbecue grill is all very well, but using it can be hard work. Not that BBQ enthusiasts have any aversion to hard work! If we did, we’d send out for food or zap a ready-meal in the microwave, instead of slaving over a hot grill.
So hard workers we are. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make the hard work easier. And on of the hardest things to do, in barbecuing, is putting meat and vegetables on skewers. Because the meat is soft (and maybe also gooey if one has marinated it first) it tends to slip and slide all over the place. If it is cut to small, it doesn’t even go onto the skewer, or it falls off immediately. If it is too large, it will take longer to cook and may even end up suffering from the old “burnt outside, raw inside phenomenon.
But this is where fairly low-level technology comes to our aid.
All the devices reviewed here are fairly low-tech, although some are quite clever. None of them remove the need for elbow grease and effort. But they do address the problem of the meat and veg slip-sliding away, so to speak.
This is a devilishly clever piece of kit. It is very hard to do justice to it with a verbal description, but I hope you’ll bear with me. It is essentially a steel box with many slits for a sharp knife on the sides and many holes in the plastic lid for skewers. It looks a bit like a scaled-down version of the kind of equipment that a magician might use for pretending to chop up his beautiful female assistant.
First you put the box on a flat, clean work-surface. Next you put in slices of meat in layers. In between the layers of meat, you can put in layers of peppers, onion (layers not rings), portabello mushrooms - I’ve even tried parboiled potatoes. When it’s full, you close it and that’s when the fun starts. You put the lid on firmly and use the metal skewer to prod holes in the meat and vegetables. Then you insert wooden skewers through the holes in the lid.
But now comes the tricky bit. You must insert a sharp knife into each of the slits and cut down to the bottom, thereby cutting the meat and veg into separate skewers. You do this on two sides obviously, so that each skewer now has separate cubes or piece of meat and vegetables.
That’s the hard part. Now comes the tricky part. But believe me this whole rigmarole is worth it for the results and in the end, it does save labor - at least if you’re making a lot of skewers. You then place the square metal plate on top of the skewer ends and lift the lid with your fingers, while holding tight on the block with your thumbs and the heels of your hands. This removes the lid from the skewers.
Finally, you lift the box and shake it so that the skewers come free with the meat and vegetables on them. And the job is done. A HUNDRED wooden skewers with meat and possibly veg in a FRACTION of the time it would have otherwise taken you!
We can’t praise it enough. It works a dream and if you do big gatherings with lots of skewers then this is what you need.
OUR BEST BUY RECOMMENDATION
If you only barbecue for small numbers and do not have the need for the awesome device above, then you could get by with this little baby.
Essentially a closable plastic case with holes at both ends, you cut the meat and veg separately into cubes or strips, using any old cutting board. Then you place the pieces in this device as you please - meat cube, onion chunk, meat cube, pepper slice, etc. After that you just close it and insert the skewer at one end, pushing it through the meat and veg until it comes out the other end, so to speak.
Obviously, the process is slower than for the cube above. But it actually as one advantage: it can be used with skewers that have eyes, hooks or handles. Most metal skewers have handles of some kind and so this device can be used metal skewers. You couldn’t do that with cube, because the handles wouldn’t go through the holes in the lid.
The device is dishwasher safe, so it is hygienic and easy to clean. For small gatherings - especially if you already have metal skewers or prefer metal to wood - this device is for you.
This is similar to the cube above. Not much we can add, other than that we highly recommend it.
This is essentially the big brother of the NOSH above, and at more or less the same price - although this one costs more for delivery. This is a double device. That is, you put in the meat and vegetables for two skewers at a time, close it and then slides the skewers through. Its is probably only marginally quicker than a single device.
But the real advantage is psychological. You can put meat and veg into the two compartments in a series of quick gestures, then you close it and insert the two skewers and when you open it, you have not one, but two skewers ready for the barbie. So, you get that added thrill of working twice as fast, even if it is really only about 30 - 50% faster.
The device also comes with a 180 day no-quibble guarantee and is very easy to clean.
This is essentially the same as the no-name brand above that does 36 skewers, except that this one (from AUTOPDR) is about £5.00 cheaper.
The makers claim that you can make 36 skewers in five minutes with this device. But in reality
it’s not that fast. Or rather humans are not that fast. By the time we’d put the meat and veg in, punched the holes, inserted the skewers, cut the meat and opened it up and taken them out it was closer to 15. There is no shame to that. But one should not have an exaggerated idea of how fast this device actually is in practice under normal conditions of normal use.
As with the one above it works perfectly well, albeit not as fast as they suggest.
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