The temperature hit 70 the other day here at Chez Bullhog. That hasn’t happened since September, according to the weather guys, but I really wouldn’t know. When you live in a city where people put on sunglasses for light rain, you learn to optimize conditions; around here, one really nice weekend can instantly wipe out months of bleary weather.
So – sunshine in Seattle, the University street fair in full swing, the smell of freshly mown grass, everybody out in shorts and flip-flops and flowers blooming all over the place. What could possibly make it any better? An outdoor barbecue, of course!
Here’s how to make succulent and always-tender chicken the way we just love it. The recipe uses an easy-to-make teriyaki sauce that includes ingredients we always have on hand. Make the sauce in the afternoon, marinate the chicken for a few hours, fire up the grill, and before you know it you’ll have smiles all around the table. Flame on!
Tender Tasty Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs
Makes 6 good-sized skewers
For the Teriyaki sauce:
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup water
3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of white vinegar
2 teaspoons shaved fresh ginger (see note below)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
For the kebabs:
2 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (meat from 10 – 12 thighs)
Teriyaki sauce for marinade
½ of a medium-sized yellow onion
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
4 6-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary (optional)
Make the Teriyaki sauce: Put first 7 ingredients into a small saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes to allow flavors to mingle.
Marinate the chicken: Cut the meat from each thigh into 4 pieces, removing and discarding any large blobs of chicken fat as you go. Put the meat into a stainless steel or ceramic bowl. Pour on the Teriyaki sauce, cover and let sit for at least 3 hours in the fridge. You can let the chicken sit overnight if need be, with excellent results.
Get the coals hot: I have a little Smokey Joe grill, made by Weber; your grill may vary. Light about 30 briquettes, bring them to the red-hot stage, and spread them away from the center of the grill to make a circle of heat out by the perimeter. This will take 30-40 minutes from the time they are lit. If your grill is larger, use more briquettes – you want a hot fire.
Assemble the Kebabs: If you’re using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 15 minutes. Peel, top and tail the onion half and cut it into 3 wedges, and then cut each wedge crosswise in half. Separate the onion segments.
Put 6 or 7 pieces of chicken on each skewer, separating each chunk with a piece or two of onion.
Arrange the skewers on a plate. Pour half of the remaining Teriyaki sauce over the chicken and grind black pepper over the kebabs. Drizzle with olive oil.
Grill the Kebabs: Put the stainless steel grill over the coals, and clean with a steel brush or metal spatula. After a few minutes, brush a little olive oil over the metal so that the chicken won’t stick. I do this using a few sprigs of rosemary as the brush and, just before I put on the chicken, I put the rosemary on the coals to let its flavor flame-infuse the meat.
Grill the kebabs for 3 minutes on one side. Turn over to grill for another 3 minutes and at the same time pour a few tablespoons of the marinade over the kebabs. Now turn ¼ turn, grill for a further 2 minutes and turn all the way over to finish.
Alternate method: If it starts to rain, as it sometimes does around here just at the time you thought you’d be settling in outside, you can also make these in your indoor oven under the broiler. Follow all the steps above, and put the kebabs 4 or 5 inches from the broiler for 2 minutes on each of 4 sides.
Don’t worry – they’ll still taste great; they just won’t be smoky!
Serve Tender Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs with rice and fresh veggies or a spring salad. After all, once it turns 70, it must be spring!
A note about ginger: I keep a 4-ounce piece of ginger in my freezer, wrapped tightly in a small plastic bag. For a recipe like this, I peel it and slice it frozen with a santuko knife. In Teriyaki sauce, I use a piece the thickness of my thumb about 1” long, and slice it as thinly as the iciness will allow. Perfect!