We made these chicken skewers countless times throughout the summer and into the fall as we renovated our patio and now our deck. Grilling has become our go to method for cooking lunch and dinner because we find the fresh air brings us comfort in these coronavirus times. You can serve these skewers hot and fresh from the grill to individual plates and actually enjoy time with friends or family in an outdoor environment. People don’t even have to sit down before they start eating them.
The yogurt lime marinade tenderizes the chicken thighs, and I highly recommend you marinate overnight if you can manage that. I think you could substitute chicken breast meat if you wanted to, although I don’t recommend it because the little extra fat on the thigh makes for better grilling and keeps the meat from drying out. Don’t skimp on the lime tarragon butter either because it is what takes these skewers to the next level. It’s easy to throw a little pot on the side of the gas grill and melt the butter as you grill the chicken and then mix in the lime and herbs.
It is hard to believe it is late in November. I’ve been meaning to make this post for months now, but I am challenged by the new interface of this blog (recently upgraded!) and absence of time to devote to the task of blog posting. The technology is getting so much better, but I my blogging skills are oh so antiquated. Perhaps I will make it a goal in the winter months of 2021 to watch a lot of YouTube videos to improve my blogging skills as I sit indoors trapped in an antisocial environment due to this goddamn bug that has thrown the world off its axis.
I have to say I am more than a bit disgusted with everything going around me (hello?? I mean is the U.S. democracy really imploding??? sure seems like it). My anxiety levels are at an all time high, despite trying to self manage with lots of exercise and red wine. I keep reaching deeper within for strength and calm, and there are days where I fail miserably.
Thankfully, this weekend brought some warm weather which enabled us to social distance a bit with friends outside in safe environment by the fire pit. And yesterday I got out for a long walk with friends while the kids played field hockey and football with masks on. These short and increasingly rare times to actually socialize with adults are a lifeline. My goal for the next few months is to follow the weather, and take advantage of it when I can. In addition to grilling, I’ve been making stews and chilis. I find its easy to serve spontaneously if friends can stop by should the sun come out (but its also easy to freeze and eat during the week if they can’t.). I will say that I do see a little hope on the horizon even though I know these next few months are going to be rough. I hope you all can continue to move forward. I mean do we really have any alternative?
Grilled Chicken Skewers with Tarragon and Yogurt
- FOR GRILLING:
- 2 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 8 scallions, trimmed
- 6 pita breads
- FOR THE MARINADE:
- 2 ½ cups full-fat Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 2 teaspoons roasted cumin seeds, bruised using a mortar and pestle
- FOR THE HERB-BUTTER BASTE:
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime), plus 4 lime wedges for serving
- ¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon, mint or both, plus more torn herbs for serving
- Prepare the chicken: Cut each thigh in half against the grain. Rub with salt and set aside.
- Prepare the marinade: In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, lime juice, olive oil, salt and garlic. Reserve and refrigerate 1 cup marinade for serving. Put remaining marinade into a large resealable plastic bag and add the ginger, cumin and chicken; squelch around to coat thoroughly then refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to 48 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 1 hour before you plan to grill. If using wooden skewers, immerse them in water to soak for 15 minutes. Alternatively, use metal skewers or none at all.
- Prepare the grill: Clean the grate thoroughly and build a hot fire. The skewers will cook over intense, direct heat. The coals are ready when they glow red and the grate hisses when you drop water on it.
- Thread the chicken lengthwise onto skewers (if using), then smear with the marinade from the bag.
- Prepare the baste: Place the butter and salt in a small saucepan to melt on the cooler side of the grill (or use the stovetop). Once butter is melted, add the lime juice and chopped herbs; keep warm but do not boil.
- Grilling in batches if necessary, place the chicken on the grill a few inches apart. When you see a good char forming underneath, about 3 to 5 minutes, gently tug a skewer or the chicken: If it feels very stuck, leave it a few more minutes before turning. When the chicken releases easily and looks nicely charred in places, flip it using a fish spatula to gently pry any stuck bits off the grate.
- Baste the chicken with the herb butter and arrange the scallions in a single layer on the cooler edges of the grill. Let the chicken cook on the second side until firm and cooked through and turn the scallions occasionally until grill-marked and tender, about 8 minutes.
- Grill the pitas until marked, about 1 minute, turning halfway through. Lay them on the serving platter and place the scallions and chicken on top. Drizzle the bread, scallions and chicken with any remaining warm herb butter. Dollop chicken with reserved marinade, squeeze with lime and top with extra tarragon or mint.