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Hey there! Long time, no see! As usual, life has been super busy around here. My husband and I just got back from a whirlwind trip through Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. It was amazing and I’m trying to hunt down some ingredients to be able to share some recipes with you from our trip soon. But, for now, I’m just excited to be back in the kitchen! After eating out for every meal for the first half of March, I cannot tell you how nice it has been to eat healthy, home-cooked meals. So, as a welcome back, I’m sharing one of our favorite dinners with you!
First, a little back story. I studied abroad in Salzburg, Austria for a summer during college. Although I ate a lot of amazing Austrian food (I still dream about the spaetzle, pastries and ice cream), one of the foods I fell in love with was Turkish kebabs. There was a phenomenal, walk-up Turkish restaurant on the street of my hostel, so it was the perfect place to stop when I was walking home after classes or on a weekend night. A few years later, I decided to try out a recipe for chicken souvlaki from my latest version of Cook’s Illustrated magazine because it sounded similar to the kebabs I had loved. I didn’t realize how similar the recipe would be to those kebabs, but as soon as I took my first bite, I had instant flashbacks to Austria. I should have known Cook’s Illustrated would come up with the perfect recipe! This recipe is more Greek than Turkish, but it still has a lot of the same flavors that I fell in love with all those years ago.
The marinade is a simple mix of lemon, herbs and garlic, but don’t let it’s small ingredient list fool you; it is is full of flavor. The chicken is so tender and moist, while the veggies are crisp and lightly charred. I think my real love for this meal comes from the generous slathering of tzatziki sauce and feta cheese. For me, there’s just something about those two things that automatically takes a dish from good to great. Topped with a sprinkle of paprika or cayenne and served with veggies and hummus on the side, this is a perfect quick and delicious weeknight meal. Maybe someday I’ll make it back to that kebab stand, but, until I do, I’m definitely ok with eating this chicken souvlaki instead.
Grilled Chicken Souvlaki
For the Tzatziki Sauce:
- 1/2-1 cucumber (about 1/2 cup), diced (may need to be peeled, depending on type)
- 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the Chicken:
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 green bell pepper, quartered, stemmed, seeded, each quarter cut into 4 chunks
- 1/2 red or white onion, ends trimmed, peeled, halved lengthwise, each half cut into 4 chunks
- 4 pita breads or naan
- Optional toppings (but highly recommended): feta cheese, paprika or cayenne pepper
- 4, 12-inch bamboo or metal skewers
- Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 1 quart cold water. Submerge chicken in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the tzatziki and marinade.
To make the Tzatziki Sauce:
- In a small bowl, stir all of the ingredients together until well mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside.
To make the marinade:
- Combine oil, parsley, lemon zest and juice, honey oregano and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Transfer 1/4 cup oil mixture to large bowl and set aside to toss with cooked chicken.
To make the chicken:
- Preheat grill on high heat until hot, 10-15 minutes.
- Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.
- Toss chicken with remaining oil mixture.
- Thread 4 pieces of bell pepper, concave side up, onto one skewer.
- Thread one quarter of chicken onto skewer.
- Thread 2 chunks of onion onto skewer and place skewer on plate or in pan.
- Repeat skewering remaining chicken and vegetables on 3 more skewers.
- Cook skewers on grill over medium heat, turning occasionally, until chicken and vegetables are well browned on all sides and internal temperature of chicken registers 160 degrees, 12-15 minutes.
- Using fork, push chicken and vegetables off skewers into bowl of reserved oil mixture.
- Stir gently, breaking up any pieces that have stuck together.
- Lay each pita or naan on 12-inch square of foil.
- Top with chicken and vegetable mixture, tzatziki sauce, feta cheese and paprika or cayenne pepper.
- Roll into a cylindrical shape and serve.
1. One thing that I love about Cook's Illustrated is the research and testing that goes into every recipe. The extra or finicky steps may seem tedious, but it's totally worth it, I promise.
2. I've never been able to find the fluffy pita bread that food stands always use. Store bought naan has been an excellent substitute and I would highly recommend it here.
Recipe slightly adapted from Cook's Illustrated Magazine: July/August 2014
Nutrition Panel: Serving Size: 1 wrap, including pita bread Calories: 570kcal Carbohydrate: 49g Fat: 22g Protein: 46g