A simple, easy and frequently requested chicken recipe!
What can I say about this recipe?
It has a nice, deep brown color, almost black, with golden highlights.
Its flavor is complex, with a sweet, smoky and slightly spicy taste. (Though you can make it as spicy as you want by adjusting the quantity of smoked Tabasco sauce).
The sauce is sticky, finger-licking good, glossy, with caramelized bits of onion to make it even better!
And it can be made in 30 minutes. How cool is that?
This is one of my favorite ways to eat chicken, though I actually discovered it rather late! You see, during my childhood, my mom cooked almost exclusively Cretan/Greek/Mediterranean dishes – after all, we lived in Crete! So, when we had chicken, sometimes it was cooked as a stew in tomato and wine sauce, other times as a chicken soup risotto, very frequently it was baked in the oven with potatoes, olive oil, lemon and oregano and fewer times it was grilled. I’m especially fond of grilled chicken because it reminds me of many happy days, when we grilled it in the countryside! You see, my parents are farmers and they cultivate olive trees and grapes. So, every winter the family would gather all together in order to help with the harvesting of the olives (I hope harvesting is the right term!). Every day, except the days when it rained, we would get up very early in the morning and would work at the olive groves until sunset.
I remember my grandma going up and down helping with all sorts of things, searching for snails (we eat them 🙂 ), wild leafy greens and herbs. Sometime before noon, she would start to collect some dried olive branches, pruned from last year, and with the help of my grandpa, they would start a fire. My grandpa was an expert in starting a fire! After a while, when the wood was turned into super hot charcoal, we would grill over the ember some chicken pieces and pork chops, marinated in olive oil, lemon and oregano (here’s that combo again!). Then we would all sit around the fire to eat lunch. That was the best part of the day! And even though many times the work was hard, I don’t remember anyone being unhappy!
If you have the time, this is an amazing short video (less than 5 minutes), which gives you a glimpse of the times I talk about.
What I’m trying to say is, that in Cretan cuisine sugar is absent from everyday meals and is only used in sweets, desserts and other baked goods. So, as you can understand, when I first tasted a recipe like this, new worlds were revealed before my very own eyes! And though I really enjoy a baked chicken with potatoes, oregano and lemon, I simply adore this recipe! It combines the taste of a grilled chicken with the addictive flavor of a sweet, smoky, spicy, sticky sauce!
Some brief notes:
The chicken skewers are cooked on a hot griddle or in a large cast iron skillet until brown from both sides. While the chicken is cooking you can prepare the sauce in a separate pan. After the sauce is done, transfer skewers in a pan, cover them with the sauce and bake for 10 minutes.
For an easier way, you can bake the chicken in the oven for twenty minutes, prepare the sauce, add it to the pan and bake for 10 more minutes. This way you don’t use a griddle or a skillet.
Both ways are great, but I prefer the first one because the chicken gets caramelized from the contact with the hot surface, something that gives it a deeper flavor.
If you can’t find or don’t want readymade chicken skewers, you can make your own (that’s what I did) or even make this recipe without the skewers – just name it sweet bourbon chicken nuggets!
Try to cut the meat in equal sized pieces, approximately in one inch cubes, since you want them to cook fast and evenly.
I trimmed my skewers to be 5.5 inches long, and threaded 3-4 pieces of meat in each skewer.
Serve with some fluffy rice and a green salad.
- 1 large onion chopped (about 1 ½ to 2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup of water
- 2 cloves garlic whole or chopped for stronger flavor
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup bourbon whiskey
- 2 tablespoons grape syrup or maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- Smoked Tabasco sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Two boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound total, cut into 1 inch cubes) OR 1 pound ready-made chicken skewers
- 9-10 wooden skewers 5.5 inches (14 cm) long
Preheat your oven at 390°F (200°C)
Thread chicken cubes through the skewers, about 3 or 4 pieces per skewer, depending on their size.
Cook skewers on a griddle or a cast iron skillet, on high heat, for about 5 minutes or until well browned from one side and then do the same for the opposite side.
While skewers are cooking, sauté onion with olive oil in a pot until translucent and browned (about 4-5 minutes).
Add garlic and cook for another minute, then add 1/4 cup of water and cook until all the water has evaporated and onions are very soft.
Add the vinegar, brown sugar, whisky and grape syrup and boil until sauce is thickened and the alcohol has evaporated (about 4 minutes)
Combine corn flour with soy sauce, add them to the sauce, cook for another minute and turn off the heat.
If by any chance the sauce thickens too much, just add a splash of water to thin it out. Taste it and add salt, pepper and Tabasco according to your liking.
Transfer skewers into a pan, pour the sauce over them and bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes.
Prepare the sauce while chicken is cooking, to save some time.
You can also bake the chicken in the oven for 20 minutes, then pour the sauce into the pan and bake for 10 more minutes. This way you don’t use a griddle or a skillet.
Try to cut the meat in equal sized pieces, approximately 1-inch cubes, since you want them to cook fast and evenly.
For skewers 5.5 inches long, thread 3-4 pieces of meat in each skewer.