Friday, February 11, 2005


First of all, it’s really fun to type the word “kebab.” Kebabkebabkebabkebabkebabkebabkebab…your left-hand pinkie and index fingers get to do this cute little dance. OK, it’s out of my system now. This is another successful recipe from Bistro Chicken, by Mary Ellen Evans. When I started making it last night, I was somewhat worried about how it would turn out, because (a) I was afraid the marinade would be too bland, and (b) potatoes?, and (c) it was raining and we had no charcoal, so we were making the kebabs (whee!) on the George Foreman grill. But I was up for an adventure, and Mary Ellen’s description was too good to resist: “These plump portions of chicken, marinated with herbs and lemon, then grilled to perfection, will turn your own backyard into a seaside escape.” Right on!

The recipe was slightly more time-consuming than I’d expected, just because there are so many separate phases (cut the chicken and vegetables, make the marinade, marinate, boil potatoes, thread food on skewers, grill), but everything turned out deliciously. The little chicken chunks get nicely saturated with marinade so blandness isn’t an issue, the potatoes get crispy and roasty, the George Foreman handled the task admirably, and it’s exciting to eat food off of sticks. (Like the State Fair! In your kitchen!) I would definitely make this again…and a good thing, too, because I have 100 bamboo skewers to use up.

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon), plus 1 optional lemon for garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 3⁄4 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons fresh oregano or 3⁄4 teaspoon dried
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1⁄2 pound small new potatoes or red boiling potatoes, quartered
11⁄4 to 11⁄2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 11⁄2-inch cubes
2 bell peppers (preferably each a different color), cut into 11⁄2-inch pieces

1. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, thyme and oregano (as always, I strongly advocate fresh herbs), and salt and pepper in a small bowl.

2. Cube the chicken breasts and put the pieces in a large Ziplock bag, then add two-thirds of the marinade. Mix everything up well (I love that Mary Ellen suggests I “gently massage the marinade all over the chicken pieces” from outside the sealed bag) and put the bag in the refrigerator to marinate for 1-24 hours. (The recipe says just one hour, but I always get better results with longer marination.) Set the bowl containing the remaining marinade aside (if I'm marinating overnight, I just put the rest of the marinade in a small covered bowl in the refrigerator).

3. When ready to cook the kebabs, put a medium pot of salted water on the stove to boil for the potatoes. Meanwhile, cut up the bell peppers, put them in the bowl containing the rest of the marinade and mix them up so they're coated all over.

4. Quarter the potatoes and, when the water boils, add them to the pot. Mary Ellen says to boil them until they're just tender, “about 20 minutes.”

5. Drain the potatoes and let them cool for a little while until you can handle them without hurting yourself. Put them in the bowl with the peppers and marinade and mix everything up well.

6. Now for the fun part. Preheated the grill, get the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator, and set about threading the chicken, peppers, and potatoes onto 8 skewers.

7. Discard the marinade and put the kebabs on the grill. Cook them, turning and rearranging them periodically, until the chicken is firm and not pink in the middle and everything looks nice and browned; the official instructions (for real gas or charcoal grills) are as follows: Grill on medium-high heat, covered, on a gas grill or 4-6 inches from heat on a charcoal grill, turning every 4-5 minutes, until chicken is done, 16-20 minutes total.

8. Mary Ellen suggests cutting your second lemon into 8 wedges and then putting a wedge on the end of each skewer as a garnish, but I only had one lemon so I skipped this and went straight to the eating part. Yum. What we didn’t eat we removed from the skewers and put in a Gladware container for later.

Serves: 3-4
Time: 45 minutes, plus 1-24 hours marinating time

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