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What’s for dinner?: Marinated yogurt chicken kebabs

Categories: Food & Cooking

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These are very simple chicken kebabs with a bit of zing from cumin and oregano.  Serve them with orzo, rice or couscous. The tzatziki is by no means essential to the success of the dish, but adds extra interest and helps the chicken and any starch you serve it with co-mingle deliciously. The salting, rinsing and squeezing of the cucumber is an added step, and if you find it annoying, skip it. The tzatziki will be a bit thinner from the liquid in the cucumber, but other than that, no real harm done.

Lemony Yogurt Marinated Chicken Kebabs
Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 large lemons, washed
  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
  • Coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless thighs or breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1. Cut one lemon in half, and each half into 6 wedges. Then cut the wedges crosswise so that you have 24 small pieces of lemon. Pick out any pits. Zest the other lemon and squeeze and strain the juice; you should have about 1 1/2 tablespoons juice.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the yogurt, shallots, salt and pepper, lemon zest and juice, oregano and cumin.  Stir to combine.

3. Place the chicken cubes into the bowl, and stir to coat the chicken well. Cover and marinate in the fridge for one hour.

4. Meanwhile, soak 6 12-inch wooden skewers in water to cover for at least 30 minutes, to prevent them from burning on the grill.

5. Skewer the more seasoned chicken, alternating two pieces of chicken with one piece of lemon, using 6 pieces of chicken and 3 pieces of lemon total on each skewer, using 3 of the 6 skewers. Skewer the plainly marinated chicken on the remaining skewers, adding the lemon wedges in the same fashion if desired, or skipping the lemon if you feel like that will be too much citrus for the kids.

6. Preheat the grill to medium (see Note below). Grill the kebabs for 4 minutes, covered, until browned on the bottom, then turn, and grill, covered, for about 4 minutes more for breasts, 6 more minutes for thighs. Cut into a piece to see if it is cooked thoroughly. Serve with the optional Tzatziki (below), and couscous, rice or orzo, if desired. You can eat the lemons, which caramelize during cooking, or not, as you like.

If you salt the cumbers, the dip can be made up to 6 hours ahead — give it a stir before serving. If you skip the salting/squeezing step, the dip should be used within an hour or so. Either way, tuck it in the fridge.

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely grated
  • 1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt, plus more to taste if necessary
  • 1 1/3 cups low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1. Put the grated cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with a generous teaspoon of coarse or kosher salt. Let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse the cucumber with cold water and squeeze it as dry as possible using your hands.

2. Put the grated cucumber in a bowl, Add the yogurt and stir to blend. Add the garlic, mint, olive oil, and vinegar and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Note: If you don’t have access to a grill, these can certainly be broiled.

Katie Workman is the author of the upcoming The Mom 100 Cookbook (May 2012), and the founding editor in chief of

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