Citrus Chicken Kebabs

final5Over the past year I’ve entered a few cooking competitions, mostly just for fun. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen–a lot of time–and it felt natural to take the chemistry that goes into an original recipe a little bit further. This recipe is one of 100 submitted by food bloggers far and wide who were asked to come up with something tasty using a specific Healthy Solutions spice blend. I chose their Pork and Poultry rub. Though I use a lot of fresh herbs, I really appreciate their dry cousins. We can’t always get to the store, and some fresh herbs aren’t readily available. A friend and I were working on a cookbook a little while back and I wanted to dedicate an entire chapter to working with dry goods.After staring at the packet for many weeks, I finally sat down and put something together. Kebabs are a favorite in our household bringing back memories of our favorite spot that is sadly ever so far away

I often brine chicken breasts and pork to ensure tenderness. Adding the spices to the brine added a nice little flavor boost. Cooking kebabs can be a bit tricky because it’s hard to tell if the meat is cooked through. With beef or lamb they can be rare and no one will freak out, but with chicken if anyone spies a little pink suddenly hands start disappearing under the table and the dog is looking a little full. I cooked these kebabs through and the chicken was still moist and tender, instead of dry and chewy as breast meat is inclined to be.

Citrus Chicken Kebabs (serves 6)

1 lb. (450g) chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
2 Tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon (35ml) Healthy Solutions Pork & Poultry Rub
1-1/2 teaspoon (7.ml) salt (optional)
3/4 lb. small zucchini, sliced thin
1 small onion (any variety) cut into 1-inch pieces
3 Tbsp. (45ml) olive oil
1 orange, juiced and zested–reserve 1 Tbsp. of the juice and divide the rest in half.
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I like whole fat Strauss, but use what you like)
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
6 flatbreads, flour tortillas, or lettuce leaves to wrap the kebabs. If using lettuce I would use something pliable like butter lettuce or red/green leaf lettuce. Iceberg or Romaine might be too stiff.
For garnish: chopped lettuce, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, radish etc. The lovely little flowers in the picture are rosemary blossoms. In our neck of the woods rosemary blooms year-round. My Mom’s garden is loaded with the stuff and every time I’m there I pick a bunch, throw them in a container with a damp towel and use them for weeks as an aromatic and flavorful bit of eye candy.

Wooden skewers.

Combine the water, 1 tablespoon of the pork and poultry rub, half the orange juice and salt. Add the chicken to a bowl and cover with the brine, stirring to make sure everything is evenly distributed.

Toss the zucchini and onion with the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of the rub, half the orange juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and refrigerate.

Combine the yogurt, 1 teaspoon of the rub, orange zest, 1 tablespoon of juice and fresh parsley. Cover and refrigerate.

I like to let things brine, marinade, meld for at least six hours or overnight.

If you’re going to cook the kebabs on the grill, it’s a good idea to soak the skewers in water for an hour or so so they don’t burn. I prefer to use a cast iron pan because it feels like they dry out a bit when cooked on the grill.

Thirty minutes prior to cooking the kebabs, remove chicken from the brine. Have your skewers and vegetables ready. Assemble the skewers with about 4-5 pieces of chicken and plenty of veg on each one. Pat each skewer dry with a paper towel. Don’t rub the spices off, you just want to absorb excess moisture so the kebabs get a nice crust. I always have leftover vegetables no matter how carefully I calculate, and I just load them onto skewers and grill them as a little extra for those who want it.

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Preheat a lightly oiled cast iron pan over medium heat until nice and hot. A spattering of water should dance across the surface.

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Add the skewers to the pan and cook for about 12 minutes until they are brown on all sides and cooked through (165F/74C degrees). Cover the cooked kebabs with foil. If you’re not serving them right away, or are cooking them in batches, keep the cooked kebabs in a warm oven until ready to serve.

I like to brush the flatbreads/tortillas with a smidgen of olive oil and toast them a little on both sides to make them pliable and give them a bit of extra flavor.

Serve the kebabs on the bread or lettuce leaf with a dollop of the yogurt mixture and vegetable garnish.

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