Homemade Mediterranean Chicken Kabobs


M'boy! I'm stepping back in the kitchen to make up a hearty meal of delicious Mediterranean chicken, yellow rice with pine nuts, and hummus. Naturally, since I'm cooking, I'm sharing the recipes.

Now, for the most flavor out of this meal, much like all the other foods I've made, you want to give yourself the appropriate time to let marinades play with meat, and spices dance with each other in the fridge. So, for the best results, you're going to want to start this a day in advance.

Before we start, there is something worth noting here, and that's the garlic. These recipes call for garlic cloves that are minced. However, should you not want to do this from fresh cloves, then follow this simple mathematical equation. One garlic clove equates to 1 teaspoon of jarred minced garlic.

First up, the chicken. You're going to need the following:

3 Pounds Chicken Breast - Boneless
1 Cup Plain Whole Milk Greek Yogurt
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Teaspoons Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
1/8 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (optional and adjustable for your preferred level of heat)
Zest from 1 Lemon - Approximately 1 Tablespoon
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice (from your lemon or bottled)
1 3/4 Teaspoons Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
5 Garlic Cloves (minced)
Skewers (wooden or metal)

In a large bowl, combine everything except your chicken and skewers, and stir it up thoroughly. It's going to come out somewhat reddish in color when you have everything fully incorporated.

Next up, you want to work with your chicken. However, there's a couple things to keep in mind here, as cutting things up, and how you do so, are optional. This will also determine if you even need skewers. Obviously, if you're leaving your chicken whole, or cutting it in half, or other large chunks that you can put on the grill without it falling through, you don't need the skewers.

As for me, I'm slicing it, and still using the skewers. The reason I'm not leaving it whole is, one, they're kabobs, and two, the more meat exposed, the more flavor you get out of it from the marinade. I'm not cubing it, because I find that square meats tend to break off of skewers when cooking, resulting in some pieces falling through the slats in the grill. I.E. wasted food.

If using skewers, put the chicken on them, and give it a good rolling around in your marinade.

Get everything nice and coated, and then cover it for its resting place in the fridge. I'm going to leave mine overnight, but you can do this a couple hours in advance if you want. Obviously, the longer it sits, the better the flavor.

With the chicken squared away, I'm moving on to the hummus. But before I do, let me stress one thing to you. Store bought hummus is disgusting. It tastes so artificial. If you've only been eating store bought pre-made hummus, stop this immediately. You're doing a great disservice to yourself. Fresh made hummus tastes a thousand times better, and takes minutes to make. All you need is:

2 Cans (15 ounces each) Chickpeas (aka Garbanzo Beans) - drained
1/2 Cup Tahini
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves (minced)
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice (fresh or bottled)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Water

Before you start, let's talk about the water.

Tap water. In most places it's disgusting. It also changes the flavor of what you're using it in. In the case of sauces or dips, it's a far greater impact because it's ultimately what turns a chunky paste into a hearty dip. As such, unless you absolutely love the taste of tap water, I highly recommend using a bottled spring water to measure out your 1/2 cup.

Regardless of what you choose, simply put all the ingredients into a food processor and push the button. Watch as you magically create the most delicious hummus you've ever seen.

If you want your hummus a little thinner, simply add a little more water. As for me, this is perfect. You can eat this right away, but I'm going to transfer it to a separate container and leave it in the fridge over night to get all the ingredients acquainted with each other, and also to chill it. This will also firm it up a smidge more. The one thing I don't make from scratch is the naan bread. Perfectly suitable options can typically be found in the bakery or bread isle of your local grocery store. I would no sooner make this than I would my own hamburger buns, but you can if you like.

Pro-tip - Tahini is not a common item at most grocery stores. However, if yours has it, it can usually be found in a jar or bottle with the peanut butter and jelly. Alternatively, if you have an international isle, it could be there.

A new day dawns, and it's time to finish making the food, and most importantly, get to eating. You're going to want to plan about an hour for this.

What goes better with kabobs than a nice side of rice? Well, maybe a salad if you're watching your carbs. But today, I'm making rice, and for that I need:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Onion - Diced
2 Cloves Garlic - Minced
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cups Long Grain Rice
2 1/4 Cups Water (Hot)
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts

Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees. Ovens and tin foil are the secret to perfectly cooked rice.

Measure out your hot water, and stir your cumin, turmeric and salt into it, letting it dissolve fully.

In a large oven safe skillet, which you have a lid for, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in your onions, pine nuts and rice, stirring frequently to saute, but not burn. Add the garlic, and stir it around to incorporate it, while also letting it brown a little as well.

When it's all to your desired color, add your water. You want the water to be as hot as you can make it, because when it hits the pan you want to bring it to a boil as quickly as possible.

When the pan boils, put a piece of tin foil over the top, and place your lid on top of this. Fold the edges of the tin foil over the lid, and put the pan in the oven.

This will allow the rice to steam, without moisture escaping the pan. Bake at 350 for twenty-seven minutes. IMPORTANT - Do not open the oven during this process. Leave it completely alone.

While this is cooking, it's time to grill up the chicken. Depending on how you cut your chicken will determine how long this process takes. For mine, in strips, this is going to be approximately ten to fifteen minutes on each side.

Pro-tip - Don't close the lid on your grill when cooking meats. When you do this, you are no longer grilling. You're broiling in what is essentially a convection oven.  While this is certainly a faster way to cook, true grilling, with all the rewards of that smokey flavor, takes the open air, and time. So be patient.

One thing I like to do with these particular kabobs is that when I flip them, I remove the sticks. They're large enough pieces that they'll cook perfectly on the grill this way.

I also like to take them off the grill after giving both sides a good charring, to reacquaint them with the sauce again. A double dip, if you will. 

Bottom line, cook them all up to your desired temp - Well done for me with chicken.

Now back to our rice. If you've timed everything right, it should be just about done. After baking, remove the pan from the oven, but let it sit with the tin foil and lid for five minutes. This will allow the remaining liquid to evaporate, and also give your chicken time to rest.

You'll notice when taking the foil off your rice that it looks like a solid crusty mass.

Not to worry. A quick stir up, and it's all good and fluffy.

I garnish my rice with a little fresh chopped cilantro.

You know the deal from here. Dig in!

Some of that spicy green sauce I showed you how to make with Peruvian chicken certainly goes well with these kabobs. As would a traditional Tzatziki sauce. Much like my other sauces, I keep this on hand, so I didn't need to make it for this recipe. However, doing so is relatively easy.

1 1/2 Cup Whole Milk Greek Yogurt
2 Garlic Clove - Minced
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Dill - Minced (fresh is best)

Simply whip all of that together in a bowl. You can even add some finely diced cucumber if you want to add color, crunch and a more authentic flavor. Much like all sauces, the longer it sits in the fridge, the better it tastes.

I also top my meal with a sprinkle of some feta cheese. All and all, very delicious, very hearty, and will keep you going the rest of the day.

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  1. This looks awesome. My wife can't do any red spices so I could easily remove the paprika and red pepper and it would probably be almost as good. I might try this in a couple weeks when we grill out at my parents house again.

    1. You could use some curry powder or garam masala in place of the paprika.

    2. She can't do curry powder, either. We have to have a long list of spices that she can and can't use and I usually have to let her make substitutions. I'm sure we'll find something.

    3. I love curry so it makes eating out with her at Thai and Indian restaurants almost impossible!

    4. I do like a good Indian buffet.