If you’ve tried to create chicken kebobs for the barbecue but they always came out more like chicken jerky, you’re not alone. (In the back of my head I keep hearing that voice from the infomercial says, “Turkey jerky!” Once you’ve seen the commercial, it remains indelibly imprinted on your brain.) I know that unless I surrounded the chicken with lots of fruit and vegetables it turned out dry and tough.
Sometimes even the vegetables and fruit didn’t help. I found this ingenious method of making chicken kebobs that were supposed to keep them moist and tender, but years of experience told me that it’s nothing could help. After all, chicken is a way to learn not to be dry.
My years of experience were dead wrong. You can have melted in your mouth chicken kabobs fresh off the grill with this little secret.
The secret is to add an ingredient that brings that delectable moist fat. It’s not an oil, nor is butter or even avocado. It’s plain ole’ manly man—but women love it too—bacon. You don’t defile the integrity of the chicken by wrapping it in the bacon, that would not allow you to crisp the outside of the chicken.
Instead, you grind the bacon and mix it with cayenne pepper, sugar, salt, and paprika to make a paste and you coat the chicken pieces that go on the kebob with it. These pieces should be one-inch cubes for the skewers.
You’re now ready to cook the chicken kebobs on a clean grill, cooking them two minutes on each of the four sides. You’re now ready to coat the kebabs with barbecue sauce. I make a delicious one with molasses, grated onion, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and hot sauce.
I’d love to give you the exact recipe but it’s done primarily by taste. I think I use about a ¼ cup of molasses, a tablespoon of brown sugar and about two tablespoons of all the other ingredients but the hot sauce. I just keep adding that, until it tastes just right.
At this point, you probably know the routine, coat, brown, turn, coat brown, turn, etc. It will have those toasty browned spots right next to the juicy saucy spots and cooked completely in about two minutes. YUMMMMM. It’s moist, yet crisp and has just the right smokey taste of bacon.
2 Tbs grated onion (grated on the large wholes of a box grater)
2 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs brown sugar
hot sauce, to taste
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbs sweet paprika
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
For the Sauce
Bring all the ingredients to a simmer in a small saucepan over low-medium heat.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and reaches a ketchup-like consistency and is reduced to about 1 cup, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove from heat. Transfer 1/2 cup of the sauce to a small bowl and set aside to serve with the cooked chicken.
For the Kebabs
Toss the chicken with the salt in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
For a gas grill, turn all the burners to high, close the lid, and heat 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Combine the paprikas, sugar, and cayenne in a small bowl.
Process the bacon in a food processor until a smooth paste forms, 30-45 seconds, scraping down the bowl twice during processing.
Add the bacon paste and the spice mixture to the chicken and toss to coat using your hands or a rubber spatula. Thread the meat into skewers, rolling or folding meat as necessary to maintain 1-inch cubes.
Scrape the cooking grate clean with a grill brush. Leave the primary burner on high and turn off the other burners. Place the kebabs over the hot burner and grill, covered, turning one-quarter of a turn every 2 minutes or so, until well browned and slightly charred, 8 to 10 minutes.
Brush the top surface of the kebabs with 1/4 cup sauce; flip and cook until the sauce is browned in spots, about 1-2 minutes.
Flip again and brush with remaining 1/4 cup sauce; continue to cook until browned in spots and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
Remove from grill and allow to rest 5 minutes. Serve, passing barbecue sauce separately.