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May 19, 2010

This week, I’m again having a hankering for fresh summery foods which can be served at barbeques or outdoor parties. Yes, you might have guessed it, summer will be arriving this weekend and I’ll be attending my first barbeque this Saturday in Wales, a notoriously famous place for plenty of rain regardless of what season it is!

Thought I’d get a head start and try out some barbeque type recipes. I’ve heard that marinating chicken in buttermilk is useful in that it’s a great meat tenderiser and it’s also used to make Southern fried chicken where chicken pieces are soaked in buttermilk before deep-frying. Just to let you guys know a bit of information about buttermilk for those who aren’t familiar. Buttermilk is an acidic by-product of butter churning with a thicker consistency than milk and was traditionally used in bread making, taken as a refreshing drink and apparently even used to treat teenage spots in the past!

Anyway, the first task was to actually locate some buttermilk and I could not find this in my supermarkets. I know they use to sell it years ago when I was a nipper but these days, it doesn’t seem too popular, don’t know why as buttermilk is commonly used in baking bread, particularly Irish soda bread. Gave up as didn’t find any so had to make an alternative to buttermilk by adding 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice to 8 fl oz (225 ml) milk, stirred this and let it sit for about 10 minutes. I spoke to other people about buying buttermilk and the older folk said that you have to buy it in the bigger supermarkets out of town and that they sell “cultured buttermilk” rather than traditional buttermilk which is what I’m familiar with. Cultured buttermilk is industrially prepared by adding lactic acid bacteria to milk but as I’ve not tried this version, I can’t really compare this to traditional buttermilk.

Found a recipe by Delia Smith and adapted this by using red pepper instead of green and used a smaller hotter chilli as detailed below as hotter tastes are my preference! After preparing and grilling the chicken, I had my first bite of kebab this year and was pleased to taste the chilli heat and the tender texture of the meat. These kebabs can be accompanied by fresh tasting couscous and a spicy chutney or chilli sauce. My only disappointment was that there weren’t enough spices in Delia’s recipe to enrich the chicken. As I adore Indian and Oriental type seasonings, next time I’m going to experiment with different combinations of herbs and spices to marinate the chicken in. If you have a very tasty chicken barbeque recipe, please let me know!

Spicy buttermilk chicken kebabs with green couscous

Serves 2

2 x 6 oz (175 g) boneless chicken breasts, skin removed

½ medium red onion, peeled, halved and separated into 10 layers

½ large yellow or red pepper, deseeded and cut into 8

1 teaspoon groundnut or other flavourless oil

salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the marinade:

1 clove garlic

1 level teaspoon peeled, grated fresh root ginger

1 small red chilli

1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves

1 level teaspoon ground turmeric

6 fl oz (175 ml) buttermilk

salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the couscous:

5 oz (150 g) couscous

9 fl oz (250 ml) boiling chicken or vegetable stock

2 tbsp olive oil

4 spring onions, including the green parts, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

1 oz (25 g) rocket, leaves finely chopped

2 limes: juice of 1, 1 cut into wedges, to garnish

salt and freshly milled black pepper

Marinated spicy buttermilk chicken kebabs ready to be grilled

  1. To make the marinade, first use a pestle and mortar to crush the garlic with about ½ teaspoon of salt until it becomes a paste. Scrape the garlic and salt mix into a large bowl. Next, add the grated ginger. Then chop the chilli and coriander and mix these with the garlic and ginger, along with the turmeric and some freshly milled black pepper. After that, pour the buttermilk into the bowl and mix again.
  2. Cut each chicken breast into five pieces, add them to the bowl ensuring the chicken is well covered in the marinade. Cover the top of the bowl with clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight.
  3. When you are nearly ready to cook the chicken, take the bowl of chicken out of the fridge to take the chill off and soak the skewers in hot water for 30 minutes (to prevent them burning). Pre-heat the grill to its highest setting for at least 10 minutes and line the grill pan with kitchen foil.
  4. Dry the skewers in a clean tea cloth and thread a piece of onion, then a piece of chicken, followed by a piece of pepper. Carry on alternating the onion, chicken and pepper until you have threaded five pieces of chicken on to each skewer where you should finish with a piece of chicken. Make sure you pack everything together as tightly as possible, then season with salt and freshly milled black pepper and brush the vegetables and chicken with a small amount of oil.
  5. Lay the kebabs on the grill rack and place them under the grill, about 4 inches (10 cm) from the heat source. Brush liberally with some of the remaining marinade and grill them for 10 minutes, before turning them over and grilling them for a further 10 minutes, brushing them with more of the marinade as they cook, and watching them carefully so they don’t burn.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, place the couscous in a large bowl, then pour the boiling stock over it, add olive oil then some salt and freshly milled black pepper and stir it with a fork. Cover the bowl with a plate or lid and leave aside for 5 minutes for the couscous to absorb the stock and soften. After that, use your fork to mix the couscous grains. Then stir in the remaining couscous ingredients and season to taste.
  7. When the chicken is cooked, place the kebabs on top of the couscous and serve straight away on warmed serving plates, garnished with the wedges of lime.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Philip Oncake permalink
    May 24, 2010 1:54 pm

    Dear lady

    I am amazing that you are eating whales in your country, I know that I could not fit one on my fire!!! I am trying to make butter milk from mixing of the butter and the milk but the butter is just sticking to my spoon so I am just leaving it in the milk with the chicken. I am like you thinking this is not very spicey for me I love it hot hot hot HA HA!!! I drank the milk after when I eat the chicken and it was OK but the lumps of butter where not good for it. I am trying hard but I don’t think I am doing it well 😦 sorry I am letting you down. Phil

    • May 25, 2010 8:45 am

      Oh fab! you had a go at making chicken kebabs. The buttermilk you tried to make isn’t typically buttermilk! Usually you can buy it from the shops and it’s a thickish sort of liquid, a bit like sour milk. I couldn’t find in my local shops so tried to make my own using milk and lemon juice. An alternative to use can be sour cream or yoghurt. You haven’t let me down at all!! I’m just happy to share and test recipes! I definitely thought adding more chillies to the chicken wpuld improve the flavour 🙂

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