to say that it is grilling season in texas would be somewhat incorrect–it is always grilling season in texas. we like our meat, we sometimes like to fetch it ourselves (aka hunting), and we like to cook it outdoors because it’s usually too hot to turn on the stove and, let’s face it, it’s the right thing to do. regardless of where you stand on charcoal or wood vs. propane, direct or indirect heat, or barbequeing vs. grilling, most everyone agrees that cooking outside kinda rocks.
this is a fairly light preparation and works well when you are feeling overwhelmed by the summer heat but have a hankerin’ for more than just another salad. the cool creaminess of the tzatziki compliments nicely the char and warmth of the kebobs. and, if you’ve never grilled fennel, oh boy. it becomes sweet and caramelized, all while still retaining it’s crisp nature. add in some sweet red onion with singed edges, moist and lemony chicken, wrap it up in a seared pita and top the whole thing off with a cool sauce and let the magic happen.
chicken and fennel kebobs with tzatziki (4 servings)
adapted from bitchin’ camero
2 lb boneles, skinless chicken breats, cut into large cubes
2 fennel bulbs, remove frond and stem ends, clean and cut bulb into 2″ pieces (reserve a few fronds for the sauce)
1 large red onion, cut into 2″ pieces
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper
7 oz plain yogurt *
1 cucumber, seedless variety, or seed a regular one
1 tbsp chopped fennel fronds
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
*greek yogurt will make a particularly thick sauce or you can just drain regular full or lowfat plain yogurt for a similar effect.
prepare tzaziki first so the flavors have some time to develop–sometimes i’ll make this a few hours ahead. grate cucumber with a box grater onto a paper towel or cheesecloth. make a small package of the papertowel and twist the ends up, squeezing out any liquid from the cucumber. you may or may not be alarmed at how much liquid you can get out doing this–DO NOT skip this step. chop garlic and make into a paste on the cutting board with the salt, by smashing it with the side of the knife. place garlic/salt mixture in a bowl with the yogurt, cucumber, fennel fronds, and lemon juice. adjust seasoning to your preferences. in other words, taste it. if you like more garlic go for it, but remember the flavor will be more pronounced as it sits.
alternate placing chicken, fennel and onion pieces onto 8 separate skewers. sprinkle with oregano, salt & pepper, then drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice. place on a (preheated-very important) medium-high grill and cook for a total of about 20 minutes, rotating skewers every 5 minutes or so. you want a nice char on all sides and the chicken to be cooked through. allow to rest for a few minutes before serving with tzatziki and grilled pita.
this goes really well with a glass of nice, dry french rose. but everything, including another glass of rose goes really well with a nice, dry french rose this time of year, doesn’t it?