Monday, July 11, 2016

Moroccan-Spiced Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Cucumber Salad

I saw this delicious-looking chicken recipe on David Lebovitz's blog recently and made it soon after. I couldn't find the flatbread I wanted, and I didn't want to make it myself, so I picked up a few packages of Italian "Piadina" bread- it's like a large wrap bread.  It's really, really large, lol; I had to cut them in half for dinner.  (Usually I can find "Arabic Flatbread" here locally but I couldn't find it anymore.  Just use your favorite flatbread.  Homemade Naan bread would be great too.)
You make the chicken yogurt marinade ahead and let everything sit in the fridge for a while.  I made my own Moroccan spice mixture- Ras El Hanout, from a recipe I found online.  Then I made cucumber-feta salad from David Lebovitz.  I didn't even realize, until I was making it, that I've made the Cuke Salad before, a lot!  It's one of my favorite things.  I make it differently, usually, with tomatoes and olives added.

Moroccan-Spiced Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Cucumber Salad
adapted from David Lebovitz

6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, peeled
3/4 cup (180g) whole milk plain yogurt, preferably Greek-style
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 teaspoons Ras el Hanout spice mix, recipe below (I just used the whole mixture)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2-pounds (900g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of fat, cut into 1 1/4-inch (4cm) pieces

1. Finely mince the garlic. Grate the onion with the large holes of a grater. (Alternately, you can cut the garlic and onion into smaller pieces and finely chop them together in a mini-chopper- I used a mini food processor.) Put onions and garlic in a large zip-top freezer bag. You may also put them in a medium bowl and marinade the chicken in the bowl.

2. Mix in the yogurt, lemon juice, Ras el Hanout, salt, black pepper, paprika, red pepper, and chicken. Before you close the bag, push most of the air out of it, then seal the bag. Massage the chicken pieces so that they are all covered. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.

3. To cook, thread the chicken pieces on 4 to 6 skewers. Light the grill until the heat until it’s very hot. Brush the grill with a bit of oil and grill the skewers on one side until they are seared with grill marks, about 4 or 5 minutes, then turn the skewers and grill until the chicken is cooked through. They’ll take about 8-9 minutes, total. If you don’t have a grill, you can make these in a lightly oiled grill pan on the stovetop.

4. Serve with pita or flatbread and the Cucumber Feta Salad, recipe below.

Ras el Hanout 
adapted from Epicurious

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1.  In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients until combined well. Spice blend keeps in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 month. (Use the whole amount for the chicken recipe.)

Cucumber Feta Salad Recipe
adapted from David Lebovitz

1 large English cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into pea-sized pieces (I shredded it in my food processor)
coarse salt
8 ounces (225g) feta cheese (I used 6 oz- what I had)
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, peeled and finely-diced (optional)
1 tablespoon (each) chopped fresh mint, parsley and fresh dill

1. Place the cucumber pieces in a colander, mix with a light sprinkling salt, and let drain 30 minutes to an hour, shaking the colander from time to time. (If you choose to shred it instead, you can skip this and squeeze out water with your hands.)

2. Crumble the feta into a bowl and mash together with the olive oil, lemon juice, water, and a few turns of black pepper.

3. Mix in the cucumbers, onions, and herbs. Taste, and add more salt if desired.

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