Summer Chicken Skewers

August 13, 2018

There's plenty of summer left and when it comes to BBQing you can still take advantage of cooking outdoors.   

We've made cedar planked nachos, and an at-home steakhouse supper this season. This time we're turning basic chicken breast into savoury barbecued skewers.

Chicken Skewers are Perfect for BBQ

Using boneless skinless chicken breast makes a healthy, low-fat meal, and doing it on the BBQ means minimal cleanup.

Where Did Skewers & Kabab Originate?

Skewered meat, or kabobs have been around almost as long as we've been cooking. This form of grilling is said to have originated in Turkey, where soldiers used their swords to cook small pieces of meat over a fire after long days of battle and marching. The word 'kabab' in Turkish means 'to roast'. In some versions of kebab, the skewers are placed into a rack that sits over top of the fire so the meat actually never touches the grill.

chickenSummer Skewer Supper

Preparation:
To make skewers, start by soaking a handful of wooden BBQ skewers in warm water. Leave them to soak while you prep the meal. Soaking the skewers helps keep them from incinerating on the grill, but of course you can use metal skewers instead if you have some.

Using fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lay them flat on a cutting board and carefully butterfly them by cutting horizontally through the breast so you have two even halves. Slice each half down the middle so you have four breast strips. If you prefer, you can just cut your chicken into large cubes, but the strips create a nice wavy form on a skewer and look a bit more interesting. 

Marinate:
Depending how many people you're feeding, you can make a few different marinades. Making something spicy, alongside something more traditional creates flavours for every taste. A spicy-sweet Sriracha based sauce with a citrus kick is popular, as is a more traditional Greek lemon-oregano blend.

Skewer & Grill:
Once your chicken is prepped, weave one breast strip onto each skewer using a back and forth motion. Not overloading the skewers gives you plenty to hold on to when placing them on the barbecue or sharing them around the table. Lay skewered chicken on a platter for easy transportation to the grill.

fruit2A Word About Sides & Dessert

You've likely seen recipes where vegetables are skewered on sticks alongside the meat. While you can try this method to create a vegetable side for your meat, many chefs prefer to skewer the veggies separately, both to avoid cross contamination, and because some vegetables cook faster than the meat. It's often best to thread the same vegetables on sticks together so you have better control and can remove them as they finish cooking; thin onion slices and asparagus tips will cook faster than peppers, while mushrooms will benefit from some extra brushes with butter or olive oil.

While you're skewering and grilling, consider taking your skewering one step further. Grill fruit like pineapple or peaches after the meat is finished (and after giving the grill a good brushing). This makes a great dessert with a delicate smoky flavour which pairs beautifully with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. But we digress… back to dinner!

Try these recipes as simple inspirations or create your own marinade from your favourite flavours. Honey dijon, Teriyaki, BBQ, Mexican… the options are endless. 

Honey Lime Sriracha Chicken Skewers
Recipe courtesy: Once Upon a Chef

sriracha chicken skewersIngredients
3 tablespoons soy sauce (use gluten-free if needed)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lime zest, from one lime
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from 2 limes
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1-1/2 square inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
1-1/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (between 8-10), trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus a few whole sprigs for garnish
Limes, sliced into wedges, for garnishing platter (optional)

Instructions:
In a blender, combine the soy sauce, honey, oil, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, ginger, Sriracha and salt. Blend until completely smooth. Pour 1/2 cup of the marinade into a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (this will be your sauce).

Combine the chicken and remaining marinade in a large Ziplock bag and seal tightly. Place in a bowl (in case of leakage) and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and thread onto skewers, folding the pieces in half if they are long and thin.

Be sure the grill is clean, then preheat to medium-high heat. To grease the grill, lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and, using tongs, carefully rub over the grates several times until glossy and coated. Grill the chicken kebabs, covered, until golden brown and cooked through, turning skewers occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes. (Keep an eye on it — if they are browning too quickly, turn the heat down.) Transfer the skewers to a platter. Warm up the reserved marinade in the microwave and either drizzle it over top or pass it alongside. Scatter the chopped cilantro over top and garnish the platter with lime wedges and cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Greek Lemon Chicken Skewers with Tzatziki Sauce Recipe
Recipe courtesy: Simply Recipes 

lemon skewersIngredients:
1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tbsp plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 Tbsp minced fresh oregano (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil plus more for the grill
2 lemons, thinly sliced 

Tzatziki:
1 cup plain yogurt
2 cloves of garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cucumber, peeled

Instructions: 
Soak the skewers. If using bamboo or wooden skewers, place them in water to soak while you prepare the recipe. You'll need either 4 flat skewers or 8 regular round skewers.

Cut chicken breasts, marinate: Cut the chicken breasts into 1 1/2 to 2 inch chunks. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Add the yogurt, minced garlic, oregano, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil to the bowl with the chicken, stir to combine. Marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Make yogurt tzatziki sauce: While the chicken is marinating, make the tzatziki. In a medium bowl stir to combine the yogurt, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Grate the cucumber with the large holes of a box grater. Place in a strainer and press with your hands to squeeze out excess moisture. Add the grated cucumber to the yogurt mixture.

Thread skewers with chicken and lemon slices: Prepare your grill for direct high heat. While the grill is heating, prepare the skewers. Use either flat bamboo or metal skewers or double up regular bamboo skewers so that the chicken is easier to turn on the grill. Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers with a lemon slice folded over like a taco between each piece of chicken.

When the grill is ready brush the grill grates with a little olive oil (use a paper towel folded over several times and dipped in olive oil, hold with tongs). Brush some olive oil over the chicken skewers as well. Place the chicken skewers directly over the hottest part of the grill and cover the grill. 

Allow to sear on one side (about 2 to 3 minutes), then turn the chicken skewers over to the other side, cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, until the chicken is browned and just cooked through.

Remove from grill and serve immediately with tzatziki sauce.

- Erin

 

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