Continuing on with our plethora of cookout recipes, let me just announce to the world that these BBQ chicken kebabs are seriously tasty. Seriously. Tasty.
Unusual in a few ways, a bacon puree (icky in thought, wonderful in application) keeps the chicken deliciously moist and flavorful while it grills. Also, paprika (paprika!) takes center stage for flavor – both sweet and smoky.
I can honestly say that this is some of the best chicken to ever come off of my much-used (and very crusty) grill.
The night I made it we ended up having an impromptu BBQ in the backyard with a few neighbors and this chicken was highly praised and quickly devoured. Plus, I have to admit that kebabs are probably my favorite way to enjoy grilled meat.
I love sliding off the juicy, tender pieces of meat and my taste buds appreciate how each pieces is lovingly coated with the flavors of the grill.
BBQ Chicken Kebabs
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 12-inch metal skewers or 6 wooden skewers, soaked in water for an hour
- 1 cup BBQ sauce (I used this awesome homemade recipe)
- In a large bowl, toss the chicken and salt together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
- Turn all grill burners to high, close lid, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Scrape cooking grate clean with grill brush. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).
- While the grill heats, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the sweet paprika, sugar, and smoked paprika. Process bacon in a food processor until a smooth paste forms, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl twice during processing. Add the bacon paste and spice mixture to the chicken; mix with hands or rubber spatula until the ingredients are thoroughly blended and the chicken is completely coated. It is ok to have small pieces of bacon intermixed with the chicken. Thread the chicken meat onto the skewers, rolling or folding meat as necessary to maintain 1-inch cubes. The chicken pieces should be just touching each other. If the bacon puree didn’t completely coat the chicken (i.e. you have clumps of bacon mixture) just grab little bits of it and smash it in between the chicken on the skewers.
- Place the chicken kebabs over the primary burner and grill, covered, turning one-quarter turn every 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until well browned and slightly charred, 8 minutes for breasts or 10 minutes for thighs. Brush the top surface of kebabs with BBQ sauce; flip and cook until sauce is brown in spots, about 1 minute. Brush second side with remaining ¼ cup sauce; flip and continue to cook until brown in spots about 1 minute longer and until the chicken is cooked completely through. Remove the kebabs from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve, passing additional BBQ sauce, if desired.
Chicken thigh or breast meat can be used on these kebabs. Whichever you choose, don’t mix white and dark meat on the same skewer since they cook at different rates. Also, I included gas-grill instructions since that is the type of grill I have. Adapt accordingly for a charcoal grill.
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Recipe Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated