Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oven-roasted Chicken Kababs

In near-winter, grilling outdoors seems unappealing. But kebabs can be roasted in an oven and make a hearty dish with rice and yogurt.

Here's a kebab I suggested to a local restaurant, one of my regular hangouts, that makes excellent thin-crust pizza and pita bread, if you order it specially, in their wood-fired oven. Ultimately they didn't decide to make the kebabs.

These are based on a kebab I learned from a Turkish friend, a chef who was a co-founder of the Istanbul Café in Decatur. (Kazim has since moved elsewhere, and the current owners of Istanbul Café do their “Mediterranean Chicken” somewhat differently.)

The recipe, though different, is reminiscent of what I developed for our restaurant, Donderos’ Kitchen, in Athens, GA. It is one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant, where we serve it with pilaf rice and tsadziki (called cacik [ja JEEK] in Turkish).

There are recipes on this blog for pilaf (1/5/07, 3/30/08) and for cacik/tsadziki sauce (4/25/08).

The chicken is marinated 1 to 3 days in advance.

Makes 6 portions.

Oven-roasted Chicken Kebabs

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (remove tough and fatty parts), cut in 1-1/2 by 2-inch pieces, 3/4-inch thick
1/2 inch of fresh ginger
1 very small onion
1 medium clove of garlic
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1-3/4 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons olive-canola oil mixture

Prep chicken.

Peel ginger (with teaspoon), then thinly slice it. Puree it in food processor with onion, garlic and lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl, scraping out the container. Add dry seasonings, cornstarch and oil. Add chicken and mix well.

Let marinate (zip-lock plastic bag works well)at least 8 hours, or preferably overnight, and up to three days, refrigerated. Stir, or squeeze bag, occasionally.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Set chicken on a flat wide baking pan with space between the pieces. Roast on the top shelf. After 6 minutes, turn the chicken pieces with a spatula. Let bake an additional 4-5 minutes, or until starting to brown. Do not overcook.

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