We’re about a week into January and I’m still eating leaner dishes, avoiding butter (mostly) and trying to be a good boy this January.
Tonight’s dish is another way to kick-up the sometimes boring chicken breast. Cut it up, marinate it, grill it and pair it with something else delicious. In this case, chicken and Halloumi cheese are the elevated to “dymanic-duo” status.
Most souvlaki shacks in Greece and abroad now offer a chicken version of this skewered meat and although I often choose pork or lamb, the chicken option is great when I’m in the mood for lighter fare.
When you add Halloumi cheese into the mix, chicken souvlaki’s stock immediately rises in the foodie’s Bourse. For those unfamilar with Halloumi, is a firm cheese that is made in Cyprus, Lebanon and enjoyed throughout the Middle East.
It’s made from a goat & sheep’s milk blend and when it’s chewed, it often squeaks against your teeth (which I find neat) and it’s best trait, it’s delicious.
The reason I’ve chosen Halloumi cheese here is that it’s a cheese that holds up well over heat. Be it fried or grilled, Halloumi holds together and for the purpose of this take on souvlaki, it’s your best bet.
This dish can be completed on your outdoor grill or one of those grilling pans you place on your stovetop. Being quite aware that there are Northern and Southern hemisphere readers of this blog, again this dish works for both!
This Chicken & Halloumi souvlaki was eaten in the context of a meze, an appetizer or part of a succession of Greek bites between sips of Tsipouro, a winter green salad tossed in a light vinaigrette, some warmed pita bread and some fruit for dessert.
The chicken breasts are cut into pieces that are the same size as your Halloumi pieces (so that they cook in the same amount of time) and the chicken is marinated for a couple of hours in flavours native to Greece, such as thyme, bay leaves, honey and red wine vinegar.
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts,
cut into cubes
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 Tbsp. olive oil
8 bay leaves
1 scallion, finely chopped
2 sprigs of lemon thyme
1 Tbsp. of honey
1 shot of Ouzo
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
salt and pepper
approx. 500 gr. of Halloumi cheese,
cut into cubes
(same size as chicken pieces)
warm pita bread
wedges of lemon
- Rinse and pat dry your chicken breasts and then cut them lenghtwise in half. Now cut them across into cube-sized pieces and set aside.
- In a zip-lock bag, all of the marinade ingredients and stir to blend. Taste and adjust seasoning and then add your pieces of chicken into the bag. Seal and squish the contents to coat all of the chicken pieces. Marinade in the fridge for 2 hours and then bring back to room temperature before grilling.
- Cut your pieces of Halloumi cheese into pieces that are the same size as the the chicken. Strain the marinade (and discard) from your chicken pieces and alternately skewer a piece of chicken and Halloumi onto each skewer.
- Pre-heat your outdoor grill (or indoor stove-top grill) to a medium-high heat and ensure the grill surface is free of residue and lubricated with a vegatable oil before grilling. Season your skewers with salt and pepper.
- Grill your chicken and Halloumi skewers for about 2 minutes a side and serve on plates with beds of warm pita bread and wedges of lemon.
NOTE: The wooden skewers do not need to be soaked in water prior to grilling as they are not apt to burn while on the grill for such little time.
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