Sunday, May 4, 2008

Mexican Marinated Chicken Kebabs

An unfortunate side effect of good weather is the sudden desire of the rest of the world to return to caveman behaviours. Yes, I mean barbecuing. "What?! You don't love barbecues?!?" I hear you cry. "But everyone loves barbecues!". Everyone, that is, except me. I have a well equipped 21st Century kitchen, why would I want to stand outside and fiddle around with charcoal and lighter fluid and trying to cook over an uncontrollable heat? And worse yet, why do so many people who claim (admit) all the rest of the year round not to be able to cook, using said excellent equipment inside, suddenly think they are masterchefs when it comes to open flames outside? The results are rarely, if ever, as good as I could achieve in the kitchen, immodest as that sounds. And in this country, it is very, very, very unusual for the evenings to be so hot that I just can't bear to stand for five minutes by the grill and so feel compelled to retreat outside. Soooo...how to make this mid-summer madness more bearable?

First, one has to identify exactly what the problems are (besides the realities of the British weather which people are so peculiarly determined to ignore). Either the coals are too hot and thus the result is meat over-cooked on the outside before it is done through, or they are not hot enough and the food is dried out by the time it reaches the plate. A bit of pre-planning can help with the second issue: marinade the meat beforehand to make sure it is tender and keep brushing with the remaining liquid whilst it cooks to reducing drying. The following is what you make if you have a bottle of Tequila lurking in your cupboard which you are never going to drink, and you think the space would be much better reserved for a spare bottle of Bombay Sapphire...

Makes 6 long kebabs:
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons of Tequila
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 pinches of dried chilli flakes
  • 2 good sized chicken breasts
  • 1 red onion
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 small courgette
  • 6 long skewers

  • Whisk the liquids, salt and chilli flakes together. Chop the chicken breasts into 2cm-ish cubes and set in the marinade in a covered bowl or freezer bag. Leave for at least 30 minutes, though the longer the better. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water while you prepare the vegetables so they are less likely to scorch or burn later. Chop the pepper into 2-3cm chunks. Peel the onion, chop the top off, cut in half lengthways, and then each half into 6 wedges. Finally, prepare the courgette by slicing in half lengthways and then cutting into 1.5cm thick semi-circles. When you are ready to start cooking, thread all the ingredients on to the skewers in an alternating pattern. Cook on the barbecue (or under a hot preheated grill), brushing frequently with the left over marinade. Serve with salad and some salsa or fruity chutney. Or follow the Mexican theme of the flavourings and de-skewer the cooked kebab into a tortilla and roll up with salsa and salad inside.

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