Be it in Greece or abroad, I’m finding more Greek restaurants offering chicken souvlaki as an alternative to the pork or lamb variety. Eating a souvlaki can be an indulgence as it’s in a red meat category, some pork fat is usually in the cut of meat and they are so damn delicious!
I’ve rarely been satisfied with the taste or texture of the chicken souvlaki. Bland & dry are the usual descriptives (not appetizing) and again…the pork souvlaki is just too good to resist…until now.
This recipe is an amalgam of different applications I’ve seen done with chicken and the chicken souvlaki. I use Greek ingredients as a marinade for this Greek favourite.
There’s strained Greek yogurt, there’s oregano, lemon juice, paprika, garlic, grated onion and bay.
To really test this recipe out, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and I cut them into strips and skewered the meat like a stitch (over & under). What I got here was a moist, juicy and very flavourful chicken souvlaki that I served family style (or as part of an array of Greek appetizers).
The key to a good souvlaki marinade here is the strained Greek yogurt. The enzymes in the yogurt help tenderize the meat the the remaining ingredients pack it with flavour.
Another departure I take from the usual souvlaki with Tzatziki sauce is to pair the chicken with a Greek-inspired Relish. Diane Kochilas shares this sauce in her bookÂ “Meze” and it turned out to be a wonderful accompaniment to the meat.
Diane’s relish has some heat by I skipped that as my chicken souvlaki already has the heat. Tzatziki is also skipped here as yogurt is part of the chicken’s marianade. Let me clear one thing up here though…don’t think you’re missing out on any of that powerful garlic breath one gets from eating souvlaki with Tzatziki.
You have minced garlic in the chicken’s flavour profile and garlic is prominebt in the tomato-pepper relish.
What you have here is juicy and delicious chicken souvlaki, a touch of heat and enough garlic to make you please to your friends and guests…KISS ME I’M GREEK!
Piquant Chicken Souvlaki (Î Î¹ÎºÎ¬Î½Ï„Î¹ÎºÎ· ÎšÎ¿Ï„ÏŒÏ€Î¿Ï…Î»Î¿ Î£Î¿Ï…Î²Î»Î¬ÎºÎ¹)
(makes 1 appetizer/meze platter or serves 4)
4 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
1/3 cup strained Greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
couple of bay leaves (or 1 tsp. ground bay)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, grated
1 Tbsp. good mustard (Dijon)
1-2 dry chillis, crushed
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. dry Greek oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded & diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. of tomato paste
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
wooden skewers, soaked in water overnight.
- Chop all your relish ingredients and stir in a bowl. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and allow the flavours to marry for at least a couple of hours in the fridge. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
- Prepare the souvlaki by first rinsing and patting dry the chicken. Cut the breasts lengthwise into long, thin strips. Set aside and wash your hands.
- Into a zip lock bag, grate the onion and mince the garlic, add the remaining marinade ingredients (except salt, pepper and chicken). Squish the contents to blend and taste and adjust flavouring. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add your chicken strips into the bag and squish the contents so that all the meat is coated by the marinade. Place in the fridge and marinate for at least 3 hours. Return to room temperature before grilling.
- Take your chicken strips out of the bag and discard it, plus the marinade. As if your were stitching with the skewer, Secure the strips of meat in a over and under fashion. Repeat until all your strips are on skewers.
- Preheat your gas grill or stovetop grill pan. Lubricate the grill surface with a vegetable oil and over medium-high heat, grill your chicken souvlaki for about 4-5 minutes per side. Serve with some warm pita bread, grilled sweet lemons, sprinkle some sea salt and dry Greek oregano Serve with a dollop of Relish and serve as part of an array of greek mezedes or as a meal with some rice pilaf and a salad.
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