Suddenly, there’s something different in the air. The proof of the pudding is that yesterday I went out without a scarf for the first time since September which can only mean one thing: summer is a-comin’. Before you know it I’ll be liberating my feet and wearing the Lotta clogs that I bought in March in a fit of very previous over-excitement that it might not be winter forever. The other way I know it’s nearly summer is that we had the, ‘Let’s get a barbecue! Or maybe a chiminea? Or something that does both?’ conversation in anticipation of being at the lovely beginning of the chapter of wanting to sit and cook and eat outside in our (quite teeny; very urban) garden. As usual, we couldn’t decide, or commit, so instead we made kebabs and griddled ’em and ate them with the garden doors opening, listening to all our neighbours living it up al fresco. You can only really griddle food (well at least in our kitchen) when it’s warm enough to cook with both garden doors open to create maximum air circulation. Otherwise, you just get smoked out and the house reeks like a kebab-house for days which, no matter how delicious the food was, only induces regret.
Lemony chicken kebabs with basil and garlic
2 or 3 chicken beasts (depending on how many you want to make
BBQ skewers (which you are supposed to soak for half an hour before using so they don’t burn)
A griddle pan if you have one (which gives those gorgeous char-grilled strips that are probably really bad for you. You could also use a frying pan or grill but this moves it away from scratching the BBQ itch)
For the marinade
These really do taste so much better, and are so much more tender, if you marinade the chicken for as long as you have time to do.
juice and zest of 1 lemon
handful or 2 of basil or tarragon or any herb you like with chicken roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
olive oil and pepper
Put the marinade ingredients into a bowl big enough to hold the chicken as well, then cube the chicken into quite small chunks (I’m paranoid about under-cooking chicken which feels easier to do if you are searing the outside on a very hot griddle, which is why I go quite small, but it is of course up to you). Using your hands or a large spoon, make sure each cube is well coated with marinade then cover and put in the fridge until you are ready to cook, at which point, remove from the fridge then spear the chicken, piece-by-piece on to your wooden skewers. As you are doing this, heat your griddle pan up so it is very, very hot indeed. You don’t need to oil it as long as your chicken is very efficiently coated in the oily marinade. Once your chicken cubes are be-skewered and your griddle is searingly hot, put your kebabs onto the pan, turning when one side is cooked, making sure each side gets seared.
I served these with a dressing made from home-made yoghurt (although you could of course use shop-bought if you are not following the SCD) with some finely chopped cucumber and mint. plus a squeeze of lemon juice and a glug of extra virgin oil.
I have cooked these in the past with vegetables on the skewers too, which can be delicious, but which can also result in everything cooking at different rates so at least one of the components are not that nice. I remedied this by roasting some courgettes and aubergines with whole garlic cloves in the oven (but I then almost forgot about them, rescuing them when they were just – just! – on the right side of burnt, as you can see below).
Lemony halloumi skewers
I also made some satisfyingly chunky cubes of halloumi, which I cut up then marinaded in the same combo of basil, lemon, garlic and olive oil (not very original on the one hand but, on the other, if it ain’t broke why fix it?), skewered, then griddled.