Spicy Pork Kebabs with Fennel, Cumin & Red Onion

This is a full-flavored, weeknight summer dish. I served it with sautéed Napa cabbage, grilled radicchio, grilled fennel, and brown Basmati rice on the side. We squeezed fresh lime juice over the grilled meat, but next time I may also serve it with a garlicky lime-yogurt sauce.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used cubed pork tenderloin instead of pork shoulder and modified the proportions.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 ¾ pounds boneless pork shoulder OR 2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lime, plus some wedges for serving
  • ¼ cup cilantro or basil, leaves and tender stems, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 jalapeño or other green chile, seeded if desired (I used an unseeded Serrano chile)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 small red onion, sliced, for serving
  1.  Season pork lightly with kosher salt and put it in a bowl or resealable bag.
  2. Juice the lime into a blender or food processor and add cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, chile and honey. Blend until the chile and garlic are puréed, then add fennel, cumin, coriander seeds and pulse four or five times to bruise the spices and mix them in.
  3. Pour mixture over the pork, tossing to coat the pieces. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you heat the grill, or up to 24 hours.
  4. When ready to cook, heat the grill or broiler with a rack positioned 4 inches from the heat source.
  5. Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between cubes. Grill over the highest heat possible, or broil on high, for 2 to 5 minutes, then flip the skewers and continue cooking until the meat is browned all over and charred in spots. It should be just cooked through: A little pink is OK, but there shouldn’t be any red spots.
  6. Serve the pork with cilantro sprigs and onion slices on top, and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.

Harissa Marinade

This second belated grilling post I would like to share is a marinade which is simple to make and fabulously full-flavored. It’s hard to ask for more! 🙂

The first time I prepared it was for a farewell party for friends moving to Florida. I marinated chicken thighs and grilled them cubed, on skewers, so that it would be easier to eat them without sitting down. We served them alongside Palestinian Chicken skewers, using one of my all-time favorite marinades.

The second time, I marinated whole chicken tenders. Even easier! 🙂 Just as delicious too. This recipe was adapted from Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking by Michael Solomon and Steven Cook. In both cases, I served the grilled chicken with Tzatziki.

  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped yellow onions (I used 2 medium)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup harissa (I used Whole Foods powdered harissa)
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken tenderloins
  • bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 to 6o minutes
  • tzatziki, for serving, as desired (link above)
  1. Combine the ingredients in a blender or Vitamix.
  2. Puree until the mixture is smooth and as thick as a milkshake.
  3. Toss 2 pounds of skinless, boneless, chicken thighs cut into 1-inch chunks with the marinade in a 1-gallon ziplock bag.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or for up to 2 days.
  5. When ready to grill, wipe off the excess marinade, thread the chicken pieces on prepared skewers.
  6. Grill over direct heat until the chicken is lightly charred on the exterior and is cooked through, about 8 minutes total.
  7. Serve with tzatziki, as desired.

One Year Ago:

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Four Years Ago:

Moroccan Chicken Brochettes with Garlic Sauce

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I am a total convert to chicken thighs- they really are the tastiest chicken meat and never dry out when cooked. This grilled chicken was tender, flavorful, and wonderful. Cutting the chicken into 2-inch pieces was the perfect size for cooking and eating. The garlic sauce was creamy and SUPER garlicky- amazing!! This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit. We ate it on warm naan, smothered with sauce, with salad and our favorite Turkish Bulgur and Vegetable Pilaf on the side. DELICIOUS!!

For the Garlic Sauce:

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 T plain Greek yogurt

For the Chicken:

  • 2-3 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2″ pieces (10 thighs)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • coarse salt
  • vegetable oil (for grilling)
  • Warm naan or pita bread
  • grilled grape tomatoes or chopped fresh tomatoes
  • fresh mint leaves, for serving, optional
  • 8-inch bamboo or metal skewers

To Make the Garlic Sauce:

  1. Place the chopped garlic in a mortar; season with salt and pound to a very fine paste.
  2. Transfer garlic paste to a small bowl and gradually whisk in the oil.
  3. Very gradually whisk yogurt into garlic mixture until emulsified. (If it is added too fast the sauce will break. If it does break, gradually whisk in 1 tsp water just before serving.)

Note: Garlic sauce can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

To Prepare the Chicken:

  1. Toss chicken, garlic, parsley, cumin, paprika, and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl; season with salt. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. (or up to 12 hours)
  2. Prepare grill for medium-high heat and oil grate.
  3. Thread the chicken onto skewers. Grill, turning occasionally, until cooked through, 8-12 minutes. If grilling tomatoes, thread onto skewers and lightly oil. Grill until tender.
  4. Serve with garlic sauce, tomatoes, warm naan or pita, and garnish with mint, if desired.

Note: Chicken can be marinated 12 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

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One Year Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Shish Taouk: Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs

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These kebabs were the focal point of an AMAZING meal. We ate the grilled kebab meat wrapped in warm naan, doused with tzatziki, sprinkled with red onion, with Turkish bulgur pilaf and green salad on the side. I felt like I was in our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant- only better! 🙂 I used naan because the pita bread served in our favorite restaurant is more similar to naan than store-bought pita. I also modified my gold-standard tzatziki recipe by thinly slicing the cucumber into rounds using a mandolin; my mother-in-law recently served tzatziki this way and not only was it delicious, the presentation was wonderful.

I had planned to try this dish ever since seeing a post about it on Savory and Sweet Food, but I had trouble finding sumac. I couldn’t believe my great fortune when sumac appeared in the “new item” section at Trader Joe’s! No wonder I am such a fan of their store. 🙂 This recipe was inspired by savoryandsweetfood.com, mamaslebanesekitchen.com, and saveur.com. I used a gas grill, chicken thighs rather than chicken breasts, substituted fresh dill for half of the fresh mint, and modified the spice blend. DELICIOUS!!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or boneless, skinless chicken breasts), about 10 thighs
  • 15 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 16 fresh mint leaves
  • 3 to 4 large sprigs of fresh dill
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 1 T sumac
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • 6 T non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • pita bread or naan, for serving
  • tzatziki, for serving
  • sliced or diced red onion, for serving, optional
  • lettuce, tomatoes, for serving, optional
  1. Cut the chicken into small cubes.
  2. In a food processor, make a paste of the garlic, herbs, lemon juice, spices, tomato paste, pepper, and olive oil.
  3. Add the Greek yogurt to the paste. Mix well. Taste for salt.
  4. In a glass bowl or baking dish, marinate the chicken pieces in this mixture and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours.
  5. Then skewer the chicken on approximately eight 10-inch metal skewers.
  6. Grill over medium heat, turning, until chicken is cooked through and slightly charred, 10–12 minutes.
  7. To serve: Remove from skewer onto warm bread. Dress with tzatziki, sprinkle with red onions, shredded lettuce, and/or tomatoes as desired.

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