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barbecued chicken kebabs

June 1, 2011

What’s that you say? There’s bacon paste in them thar chicken kebabs? Uhh, clearly we had to try it. ASAP.

I guess the theory (according to Cook’s Illustrated, anyway) is that the bacon fat helps keep in the chicken-moisture (mmm…) over the high heat of the coals and/or gas flames of doom. And you know what? As strange as the theory sounds, it’s actually right. These puppies were pretty charred by the time I finished with them (uhh, first time being in semi-charge of the grill what?), but the meat was still juicy and flavorful, maybe a little bit smokier thanks to the bacon and the yummy homemade barbecue sauce.

It was a pretty good spring/early-summer meal, especially when paired with this funky (pre-toasted!) pasta we picked up on our latest gourmet-shop run:

Barbecued Chicken Kebabs
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup light or mild molasses [we used the regular-type Grandma’s molasses stuff—I think as long as you don’t use blackstrap, you’re probably okay]
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons grated onion
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes (don’t mix light and dark meat on one kebab)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 12-inch metal skewers

1. For the sauce, bring all ingredients to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce reaches ketchup-like consistency and is reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer 1/2 cup sauce to small bowl and set aside remaining sauce to serve with cooked chicken.
2. For the kebabs, toss chicken and salt in large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. [This turned out to be about how long it took to make the sauce, so you might want to do this step first if you’re pressed for time.]
3. Turn all burners on the gas grill to high, close lid, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Scrape cooking grate clean with grill brush. Leave primary on high and turn off other burners.
4. While grill heats, pat chicken dry with paper towels. Combine sweet paprika, sugar, and smoked paprika in small bowl. Process bacon in food processor until smooth paste forms, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl twice during processing. Add bacon paste and spice mixture to chicken; mix with hands or rubber spatula until ingredients are thoroughly blended and chicken is completely coated. Thread meat onto skewers, rolling or folding meat as necessary to maintain 1-inch cubes.
5. Place kebabs over primary burner and grill with the cover down, turning one-quarter turn every 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until well browned and slightly charred, 8 minutes for breasts or 10 minutes for thighs. (If flare-ups occur, slide kebabs to cool side of grill until fire dies down.) Brush top surface of kebabs with 1/4 cup sauce; flip and cook until sauce is brown in spots, about 1 minute. Brush second side with remaining 1/4 cup sauce; flip and continue to cook until brown in spots and instant-read thermometer inserted in center of meat registers 160 degrees for breasts and 175 degrees for thighs, about 1 minute longer. Remove kebabs from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve, passing remaining barbecue sauce separately.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated

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