Todays recipe, part two of my Mediterranean recipe series, was inspired by the Greek restaurant down the street from my apartment. It’s my go-to spot when I’m too tired to cook because their menu is healthier than most other quick-food options, which I love. We’ve been eating there a couple times a week lately because I’m downright obsessed with their chicken kebab plate. I’ve devoured that meal countless times yet, I still find my self in awe if the unsurpassed tenderness of their chicken. The last time I was there I decided to just ask one of the waiters what their secret was and he told me they marinate their chicken in Greek yogurt and milk. After doing a little research I discovered the theory that the calcium in the dairy breaks down the protein in chicken, creating that uber tender texture. Yogurt is only mildly acidic compared to the typical high acid marinades which use citrus or vinegar and can cause meat to become tough, which almost defeats the purpose of marinating altogether. I added a few of my favorite spices to the marinade for flavor and some lemon juice for brightness and to highlight the other flavors.
Ingredients (serves 4-6, prep time 5 minutes, marinate 4-8 hours, cook time 18-20 minutes)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup 2% milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt, + additional 1/4 tsp to season chicken before grilling
1/2 tsp lemon zest
Wash and dry chicken and cut into cubes about an inch thick and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl stir together yogurt, milk, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, salt and lemon zest and pour over chicken, evenly coating each piece in marinade. Place chicken in a tupperware or ziplock bag and marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 4, maximum of 8 hours.
When finished marinating, skewer chicken through the thickest part of meat. Evenly distribute chicken on skewers to make 4-6 kebabs depending on how long your skewers are (if you use wood skewers soak them in water for 10-15 minutes before assembling so the wood doesn’t burn on the grill). Clean your grill grates so they’re free from any debris. Before you turn on the grill spray grates with non-stick cooking spray. Start your grill and turn to medium heat, letting the grates get hot. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 tsp salt on chicken and place kebabs on the grill, seasoned side down.
Cook for about 8-10 minutes on each side until cooked through. The internal temp should be 165F. If you have a meat thermometer, use it. If you don’t have a grill you can also cook the chicken (without skewers) in a sauté pan or grill pan on med-low for about 16-20 minutes, turning throughout. Do not crowd the pan with too much meat as the marinade and juices will cause the chicken boil. The result is definitely less tender when boiled so if you use a stovetop try cooking it in batches. Once cooked, let rest for 5 minutes and serve with a salad or on a pita with hummus and greens. My pesto or roasted red pepper dip would be awesome too, enjoy!