Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chicken Kabobs with Aleppo Pepper

The hubby and I had a busy week with a lot going on at work, and some friends visiting from out of town. The hubby did most of the cooking during the week (including his wonderful fajitas -- they're not just for Christmas!), so I wanted to repay him by getting off my butt and helping this weekend.

This is aided by the fact that we visited my mother-in-law this weekend, and her garden is producing. There's something about a basket of garden-fresh produce that makes me positively giddy. Seriously. It's getting to be zucchini-beef spaghetti season. I couldn't be happier. Yes, I have big plans for supper tomorrow night! And I'm easily amused.

But back to tonight. I recently purchased some aleppo pepper online, because buying obscure spices is another habit. (You should see my spice cupboards. Yes, plural. They're out of control.) But I thought the aleppo pepper looked interesting, even though I didn't know what to do with it yet. And then I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit -- how timely! It had to be fate.

Aleppo pepper is a pepper from Syria, and while it definitely has some heat, it's not overwhelming. It's also a little bit sweet. According to the knowledgeable folks at Bon Appetit, you can substitute crushed red pepper and Hungarian sweet paprika for the aleppo. But I highly recommend trying the aleppo, if for no other reason than it's pretty. It sparkles. I like things that sparkle.

I would recommend cutting back on the lemon a bit in the recipe, so I'm suggesting a half a lemon instead of a whole lemon. But if you love a really lemony chicken, by all means, throw the whole thing in.

The hubby and I ate our chicken kabobs with grilled, garden-fresh veggies sprinkled with fresh herbs, and lovely soft pita bread that we sprinkled with zahtar/za'atar seasoning and grilleed. It was a perfect summer combination.

Note: If you'd like to develop a spice-buying obsession of your own, but don't have a local spice shop, I highly recommend both The Spice and Tea Exchange and The Spice House. I've visited both in person. I had to be dragged out.

Chicken Kabobs with Aleppo Pepper
Serves 4

1 1/2 Tbsp. aleppo pepper (substitute 2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes plus 2 tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika)
1 Tbsp. warm water (use 2 Tbsp. if you're substituting for the aleppo pepper)
1 c. plain whole-milk, Greek-style yogurt (although if non-Greek and/or low-fat is all you can find, knock yourself out)
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black peppeer
6 cloves garlic, peeled and flattened
1/2 unpeeled lemon, cut in thin slices
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs), cut in 1 1/4" cubes

1. Place the aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper/paprika in a large bowl. Add warm water and combine. Let stand about 5 minutes, or until mixture forms a thick paste.

2. Add yogurt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, salt, and epper, and stir. Add garlic and lemon slices, and then stir in chicken.

Yes, it looks weird. Just go with it.

3. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 1 day ahead.

4. Heat grill to medium. Thread chicken onto metal skewers (or soaked wooden skewers).

5. Grill until chicken is cooked through, turning skewers occasionally, about 15 minutes.


Palidor said...

I have never heard of aleppo peppers. Sounds like something I would like because, even though I'm half-Indian, I can't tolerate hot peppers very well. :-P

Spryte said...

OH man those look awesome!!!!!!

Eileen said...

I picked up some aleppo pepper & was surfing the web for recipes, when I stumbled across this one. Delicious! I'm now in love with aleppo in general, and this recipe in particular. Thank you so much for posting! I made one adaptation - I baked the chicken in strips, instead of grilling it as kebabs (simply because I lack skewers & hate to clean the grill.) It was wonderful.