Beef Brochettes

Whether you call them beef brochettes, beef kebabs, or steak skewers, this a recipe for happiness.

It's been on my mind for a long time to try to recreate the brochettes I used to get after school when I was living in the Ivory Coast circa 1994. The little skewers of meat on a grill-toasted baguette were killer. The flavors of cumin and red pepper have stuck with me to this day. 

The vendor would grill as many skinny kebabs as we ordered in no time at all.  As meat cooked, he'd toast a piece of baguette right on the grill, then brush on some cooking oil from a can. Lastly, he'd stack our brochettes on the bread, close it up tight in his hand, and pull out the wooden skewers one by one. Then he'd hand me my sandwich: a flaky, crispy baguette, flavorful, spicy bites of beef, a swirl of oil and spices...it was everything my aspiring-foodie adolescent-self wanted. I haven't forgotten the textures and tastes since I was thirteen.

At school, we could get big, meaty beef brochettes on a metal skewer atop a plate of attieke, or "cassava couscous". The attieke at school was topped with a tomato and onion salad. I would literally steal change from my parents' drawers and beg loans from my friends so I could have attieke and a brochette for lunch instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I used this Westernized recipe for the beef brochettes because it's not so easy to find North African/Middle Eastern ingredients here in Taiwan...not that I've had much cause look for them before now. I wanted to make this recipe right away, so I went with what I know.

I also made the yogurt dipping sauce, and it was delicious on the beef kebabs, but I didn't put it on the couscous because it wasn't what I remembered from my days in Abidjan. 

I found this recipe for attieke that looked very much like what I remembered eating under the paillote all those years ago, but I substituted couscous because I just don't know where I would find attieke here. If you want to try it, but you don't have a store that sells attieke near you, you can find it online in the US. I also substituted mushroom dark soy sauce for Maggi at the last minute because I was halfway through my preparations when I realized I didn't have any Maggi. Some people don't like using Maggi because it's processed, anyway, and I'm not sure mushroom dark soy sauce would be a better option for them. Maggi provides the salt and a lot of umami flavor, so you'll want to have something salty and savory in there. Maybe it's time to try some umami paste.  

But really, since I made these beef brochettes au pain, I didn't even need a salad–particularly one made with tiny noodles. If you want a lighter meal, just choose either the couscous salad or the baguettes, but not both. 

Overall, this was a delicious meal. I made it by myself just to try out the recipe on our tabletop grill, but I would happily cook these brochettes and the "attieke" again with friends and family. The tabletop grill worked out well. I think they'd be great next time we're having a potluck barbecue, too. 

In terms of  recreating my first foodie experiences in Abidjan, I still have some work to do. I'm going to try to make beef brochettes again with smaller pieces of meat and I'm going to use a dry rub with salt and cumin instead of a marinade. I'll post that version when I make it. 

Suggestion: Make the salad first and let it rest in the fridge until you're ready to cook and eat the beef.


Things you might need to make beef brochettes on the tabletop grill: 

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Couscous salad recipe

You can use couscous as a substitute for the traditional side of attieke if you can't find it. 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water 
  • 1 cup dried couscous
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped and seeds, and inside flesh removed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 Maggi cube, crushed OR 2 tablespoons dark mushroom soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I used apple cider, white vinegar or a red/white wine vinegar would also be great) 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (I couldn't bring myself to use more oil than this) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a ceramic or glass mixing bowl, combine the couscous and the boiling water. Place a lid or a dinner plate over the top for about ten minutes. The couscous will absorb the hot water. Use a fork to fluff it. 
  2. In another mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, onions, Maggi/dark mushroom soy sauce, vinegar, oil, and Dijon mustard. Add some freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  3. Let the tomato mixture rest in the fridge for at least an hour before serving on top of the the couscous like a salad/dressing. 
  4. This salad will keep covered in the fridge for a 2-3 days. I love it best the next day when the couscous is saturated with the dressing. 

Beef brochettes recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • Salt to taste 
  • 1 lb (16 oz) of your favorite cut of grilling steak (sirloin works great), trimmed and cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper/and or green bell pepper (1 pepper total), seeded and cut into chunks (big enough to thread on the skewers between pieces of meat) 
  • 1 small onion, cut into large chunks, for skewering and grilling 
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • At least 6-10 short bamboo skewers 

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix the garlic, green onions, cilantro, lemon rind and juice, curry powder, olive oil, and salt for the beef marinade. 
  2. Remove 1/2 a cup of the marinade mixture to another bowl and mix it with the yogurt for a dressing for the grilled beef brochettes. You can refrigerate the dressing until it's time to eat. 
  3. Pour the rest of the marinade mixture into a glass casserole dish or a gallon-sized storage bag. Add in the beef cubes and let rest for at least 15 minutes-2 hours. You don't want the beef in this recipe to marinate for too long as the acid from the lemon will start to cook it before you've even turned on your tabletop grill. If you're serving couscous salad and you haven't already prepared it, now is a good time to do so.
  4. If you're using an electric tabletop grill like ours, turn it on at least 15 minutes before you'll want to start cooking. Make sure there's water in the drip pan underneath. 
  5. Make your brochettes. Alternate pieces of the marinated beef, onion, and bell peppers to create a colorful skewer. Grill it up on your tabletop grill until it's done as well as you like it. 
  6. Serve the skewers with the couscous salad and/or pieces of baguette cut no longer than your skewers. The baguette can be toasted on the grill. Wipe the insides with a little olive oil and put it face down over the heating element until the edges are browned. Use the baguettes to make sandwiches with your brochettes. 
  7. Also serve this dish with the yogurt sauce. It goes very nicely with the beef brochettes, with or without bread. 

You might also like to try these other tabletop-cooking ideas:


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