SKEWERED CHICKEN SPIEDINI AND CORN SALAD COMBINE FOR UNCLUTTERED LATESEASON PERFECTION
BY MATT ABDOO
The last time I contributed a recipe to INDUSTRY back in January, I was craving good winter food: heavy, rich dishes for short, cold days. Now, though, it’s prime pre fall grilling season, and while ribs and barbacoa never leave my culinary rotation, I thought I’d offer a still favorite but lighter cookout recipe: chicken spiedini.
I grew up eating this dish (an Italian kebab, essentially, though there are variations that are fried). My Italian mother cooked on a budget, yet she made it three or four times a week to feed me and my three siblings. My Lebanese father had kebab recipes of his own, full of entirely different flavors. I could never pick favorites.
Today, I make chicken spiedini for my own family. It’s an herby, fresh meal, one best pre marinated overnight if you can. I love it for entertaining. Preparation is relatively quick, and when it comes time to fire up the grill, you’re not going to be doing anything too complicated. A simple dish with big, bold flavors, serve it with my zesty corn and pineapple salad to add brightness and a little heat.
Here’s a tip: the corn and chicken cook for about the same amount of time, so just lay them side by side on the grill. And feel free to add vegetables to skewers if you have any lying around (my favorites for this are baby portabellos and bell peppers.
I’m busy these days running Pig Beach and preparing for the opening of our second location in Long Island City, but part of what I’m always up to is experimenting with new dishes; I’ve been trying, for example, to perfect a pork char siu recipe (the world of barbeque is massive and complex, and there’s always something new to discover), while still making time to grill for family and friends, and this dish is a taste of home I hope you love as much as I do.
ITALIAN CHICKEN SPIEDINI
Serves 4 6
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
1 pound chicken thighs, boneless and cubed
1 cup vegetable oil
¾ cup red wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic (micro planed)
1 tbsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk. Transfer to an airtight non-reactive container until ready to use.
Cut the boneless skinless chicken thigh meat into one inch cubes. Place into a gallon size Ziploc bag. Pour marinade over the chicken and refrigerate for at least two hours (or overnight). Soak six inch wooden skewers in cold water for at least two hours. Once the chicken is ready, place five pieces on each skewer and set aside.
Clean, oil, and preheat grill to high. Once it’s up to temperature, cook skewers for approximately one minute per side. Cook all four sides. The final temp of the chicken should reach 160°F. Transfer to a platter to allow meat to rest.
SUMMER CORN AND PINEAPPLE SALAD WITH HABANERO
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8 10 minutes
6 ears sweet corn (husks removed)
2 cups pineapple, medium diced
1 tbsp. olive oil Zest and juice of one lime One half of a habanero pepper, seeds removed and chopped
2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat grill to high. Grill corn for approximately two minutes per side, creating a nice, charred exterior (approximately eight minutes total cook time). Once corn has been cooked, cut it o the cob and transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl.
Mix corn with the pineapple, olive oil, lime zest, and juice, chopped habanero, and chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and allow corn salad to chill and marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.
Matt is executive chef and owner of Pig Beach in Gowanus, with plans to soon expand the smoke and barbecue centric brand to Queens. He, his wife, Meghan, and their son, Luke, reside in the city.
PAIRING: PUERTO VALLARTA TEQUILA REPOSADOA
The warm is almost behind us, as will be much of our tequila passion, so while Pig Beach’s “shot and a beer” still holds (the beer component typically being Negro Modelo), we consider this Reposada a remarkable buy and complement to the spiedini. 100% agave and pale gold in color, with aromas of brown butter and leather, it starts tart and brisk but finishes with delicious to flee, ripe fruit, and pepper.