From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Skewered meat is one of those foods that has crisscrossed borders and been assimilated into the cuisine of many countries. We think that kabobs were originally a Turkish dish that consisted of pieces of marinated and skewered lamb that were grilled over a charcoal fire. Food historians believe the kabob's origins can be traced to a shortage of fuel in the Near East that made cooking large pieces of meat difficult. We know the word is Persian in origin and Arabic oral tradition infers it was the creation of Persian soldiers who used their swords to grill meat over battlefield fires. Now, here comes the kind of trouble that delights revisionists. Excavations on the Greek island of Santorini, have uncovered the stone sets of barbecue for skewers that were used before the 17th century BCE. That's mighty early and makes some of those earlier claims suspect. So, to be on the safe side, and keep all my friends, I'm going to attribute the creation of kabobs to the region rather than a country.These days, not much escapes the skewer and kabobs can be found in places as disparate as Greece and Thailand. Wherever they appear, they are a favorite food of locals who can't seem to get enough of them. The kabob is usually made with chunks of meat but it can also be made with meatballs or appropriately trimmed vegetables. We have spent the last few days in an area not known for fine dining. So, to assure decent meals we brought the fixings for ours with us. That involved some planning because my idea of an escape does not involve hours in the kitchen. This holiday there would be nothing on the table that couldn't be thrown in the oven or tossed on the grill. The hamper, of course, included kabobs. These make for a wonderful quick meal and they are delicious if you remember to grill the vegetables separately from the meat. If you try to combine both on the same skewer you'll have a hot mess on your hands. The vegetables will start to burn long before the meat is table ready. This recipe is a variation of one that was developed for Williams Sonoma. It is really pleasant and can be served over couscous or rice. Tzatziki is a nice accompaniment. I think you like this. Here's the recipe.
Lemon Garlic Chicken Kabobs...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite adapted from a Williams Sonoma recipe
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
Juice of 1 lemon lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
1) To prepare chicken: In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Add chicken and stir to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
2) To prepare grill, plank and skewers: Soak a cedar plank in water according to package instructions. Prepare a medium fire in a grill and heat plank. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water to cover for at least 20 minutes.
3) To prepare vegetables: In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside. Thread onion and bell pepper onto skewers, alternating pieces and dividing them equally. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Thread chicken onto separate skewers, taking care not to pack pieces too tightly.
4) To grill: Lay skewers on warm plank. Brush vegetables with olive oil-lemon juice mixture. Close lid and cook until chicken is opaque throughout and the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer skewers to a warmed platter and serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.