A tangy, garlicky, finger-licky delicious yogurt marinade works its magic by simultaneously flavoring and tenderizing pieces of chicken, which get skewered and seared on a hot grill to give you juicy, tangy, garlicky, finger-licky morsels of yumminess! Serve it with rice and your favorite veggies for a bright and healthy weeknight meal.
It is perfect as a make-ahead because the chicken can sit in the marinade at least 3 hours up to overnight. However, if you are making it for tonight and pressed for time, an hour is the minimum for the marinade and I would also recommend marinading it in a plastic ziptop bag with the air pushed out to quicken the process (since the marinade is touching meat directly without air pockets). My recipe calls for boneless chicken thigh meat because that is the juiciest and most flavourful part of the chicken. But if you are a white meat lover, that's ok no judgement here! I have made this recipe with chicken breasts as well and it is also excellent because of that awesome marinade which as I mentioned, tenderizes the meat while it marinades. In either case (dark or white meat), it is important not to overcook if you want maximum juiciness.
The marinade recipe calls for sumac which is a spice blend popular in Middle Eastern and North African cuisines that has savoury and tangy citrusy tones that go really well here. It is readily available in most well-stocked grocery stores in the spice section. If you are without it, you can omit it and simply add more lemon zest to your liking. The chicken skewers can be grilled outdoor, or indoor on a grill pan (or griddle pan) preferably cast iron.
8 pieces chicken thighs, deboned and deskinned or ~3 lbs worth of boneless skinless meat (see headnote)
For the marinade
2 C plain Greek yogurt
1/2 large white onion, grated
5 cloves garlic, minced fine
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zest and juice
5 tsp salt
2 tsp sumac (see headnote)
1 tsp black pepper
1. Cut your chicken into 1" pieces. Set aside.
2. In a very large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and mix well.
3. Reserve about 3/4 C of the marinade to serve alongside the chicken skewers as a dipping sauce - keep it in the fridge until ready to use.
3. Combine the chicken and the marinade and toss it around to coat it very well.
4. Cover with cling wrap or put into a ziptop bag. Refridgerate at least 3 hours up to overnight. See headnote if you are pressed for time.
5. To prepare the chicken for grilling, first soak about 14-16 bamboo skewers for 15 minutes. Place 4-5 pieces of chicken on each skewer, taking care to leave a small gap between the pieces to allow even cooking. Tip: if chicken pieces vary in size, skewer like-sized pieces together since they will take similar amount of time to cook. You can keep the skewers like this, loosely covered in the fridge until ready to use. In any case, remember to bring the chicken to room temperature before grilling, about 30 minutes. This step is important why? If the inside of the chicken is cold, it will take longer to cook through meanwhile overcooking (aka drying out) the outside.
6. Heat your outdoor grill or indoor grill pan (or griddle) over a medium to medium-high heat. Lightly brush oil on the surface before placing the skewers down. Cook for 4 minutes, flip and cook for another 2-4 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160f and the outside is seared golden brown. The skewers with smaller pieces of meat should come off the grill earlier (or you can put them on last).
7. Serve the chicken skewers with the reserved marinade for dipping, alongside your favorite veggies and steamed rice.
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