Friday, July 22, 2011

Barbecued Chicken Kebabs

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that John and I are huge fans of Cook's Illustrated. This recipe is a perfect example of why we adore them: in order to keep the chicken pieces moist while grilling, the recipe tells you to coat them with pureed bacon. Weird, yet brilliant.

Although pureeing bacon might have been the nastiest thing I've ever done with my food processor, the resulting kebabs were phenomenal. We used chicken thighs, as the recipe recommends, but you can use breasts if that's your thing (just don't use breasts and thighs on the same skewer since they cook at different rates). I totally dig the homemade barbecue sauce from this recipe, but you could easily sub your favorite bottled brand if you want to save some time. Just don't skip the bacon paste!

We cooked ours on our charcoal grill, but I'm including instructions for a gas grill as well. Tomorrow we're heading to Vermont to stay at the Cook's Country house (see the previous post for more info), so stay tuned for lots of fabulous photos and recipes from our stay.

Barbecued Chicken Kebabs
from Cook's Illustrated


1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup light or mild molasses
2 tablespoons grated onion
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 slices bacon , cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 12-inch metal skewers


1. FOR THE SAUCE: Bring all ingredients to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce reaches ketchup-like consistency and is reduced to about 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer 1/2 cup sauce to small bowl and set aside remaining sauce to serve with cooked chicken.

2. FOR THE KEBABS: Toss chicken and salt in large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

3. Charcoal grill: Light large chimney starter three-quarters filled with charcoal (4 1/2 quarts, about 75 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Arrange all coals in even layer over half of grill bottom, leaving other half empty. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat grate until hot, about 5 minutes. Scrape grate clean with grill brush. Gas grill: Turn all burners to high, close lid, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Scrape cooking grate clean with grill brush. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).

4. While grill heats, pat chicken dry with paper towels. Combine sweet paprika, sugar, and smoked paprika in small bowl. Process bacon in food processor until smooth paste forms, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl twice during processing. Add bacon paste and spice mixture to chicken; mix with hands or rubber spatula until ingredients are thoroughly blended and chicken is completely coated. Thread meat onto skewers, rolling or folding meat as necessary to maintain 1-inch cubes.

5. Place kebabs over coals (or over the primary burner, if using gas) and grill, turning one-quarter turn every 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until well browned and slightly charred, 8 minutes for breasts or 10 minutes for thighs. (If flare-ups occur, slide kebabs to cool side of grill until fire dies down.) Brush top surface of kebabs with ¼ cup sauce; flip and cook until sauce is brown in spots, about 1 minute. Brush second side with remaining ¼ cup sauce; flip and continue to cook until brown in spots and instant-read thermometer inserted in center of meat registers 160 degrees for breasts and 175 degrees for thighs, about 1 minute longer. Remove kebabs from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve, passing reserved barbecue sauce separately.

Serves 6.
Download a printable recipe.

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