I already know what your going to say – and I agree. This recipe is kind of, really weird! It is honestly, one of the strangest and yet most delicious concoctions I have ever tried. I was quite skeptical when I first heard about this crazy way of making Chicken Kabobs but my chief culinary consultant and photographer (aka husband) agreed – the finished product is quite extraordinary!
A friend told me about this recipe originating from Cook’s Illustrated, a wonderful culinary journal that tests, tweaks and trouble shoots a given recipe until they come up with “epicurean perfection”. When the fine folks at CI decided to tackle chicken kabobs, one of the problems they wrestled with was; how to ensure the meat would be moist and tasty when it emerged off the grill since quite often grilled chicken tends to be dry and lackluster.
Okay, this is the crazy part – they pureed two strips of bacon, rubbed it all over the chicken, added some great spices and finally brushed it with barbeque sauce half way through the grilling. Strange? Yes! Delicious? Most definitely!!! The bacon doesn’t add much fat since the recipe only calls for two strips. I’m sure much of it is melted off during the grilling, but the flavor it imparts is nothing less than fantastic!
I simplified the recipe a bit by using our favorite commercial barbecue sauce instead of the homemade version the recipe called for. I made the sauce the first time I tried the recipe, but honestly, I don’t think it was worth the extra time. I highly encourage you to give this recipe a try for your next cookout or family get-together – make some extra copies of the recipe as you will need them!
- 2 pounds boneless chicken breast or skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes (see note)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 slices bacon cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 8 10-12- inch wooden skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes (or longer) before using
- 1 cup barbecue sauce your favorite, we like Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory and Brown Sugar
- Toss chicken and salt in large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
- Heat gas grill to medium high,
- Divide barbecue sauce, 1/2 for grilling and the other 1/2 for passing at the table.
- While grill heats, pat chicken dry with paper towels. Combine sweet paprika, sugar, and smoked paprika in small bowl. Process bacon in food processor until smooth paste forms, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl twice during processing. Add bacon paste and spice mixture to chicken; mix with hands or rubber spatula until ingredients are thoroughly blended and chicken is completely coated. Thread meat onto skewers, rolling or folding meat as necessary to maintain 1-inch cubes.
- Place kebabs on grill, turning one-quarter turn every 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until well browned and slightly charred, about 8 minutes for breasts or 10 minutes for thighs. Brush top surface of kebabs with ¼ cup 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 and instant-read thermometer inserted in center of meat registers 160 degrees for breasts and 175 degrees for thighs, about 1 minute longer. Remove kebabs from grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve, passing reserved barbecue sauce separately.