Peanutty Chicken Kebabs


Reminiscent of Thai satay, minus the hassle of pounding the chicken until thin.
TIME 40 minutes, plus time to marinate
MAKES 4 servings
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Salt
2 limes, quartered, for serving


Method
1 You’ll need 4 long or 8 short skewers. If you’re using wooden ones, soak them in warm water while you prepare the chicken. Cut the meat into 1½-inch chunks.

2 For the marinade, put the onion in a food processor or blender along with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of the cilantro, the lime zest and juice, oil, soy sauce, cayenne, peanut butter, and a pinch of salt. Purée the mixture until relatively smooth, adding a few drops of water if necessary to keep the machine moving. Put the chicken in a large bowl, pour the marinade over it, and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it sit for at least a few minutes or up to an hour at room temperature or refrigerate it for up to 12 hours.

3 When you’re ready to cook, prepare a grill or turn on the broiler; the heat should be medium-high and the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. If you’re broiling, grease a large rimmed baking sheet with some oil. Thread the chicken onto the skewers, leaving a little space between pieces.

4 To grill, put the kebabs on the grates directly over the fire. To broil, put them on the prepared pan under the heat. Cook, turning once or twice with tongs, until the chicken is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes total. To check for doneness, cut into a piece with a sharp, thin-bladed knife; the center should be white or slightly pink. Garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro and serve with the lime wedges.

Variations
  • Mediterranean Chicken Kebabs: Skip all of the ingredients except the chicken and the salt. Instead, in Step 2, combine 3 tablespoons olive oil with 1 teaspoon balsamic or sherry vinegar, ½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, and a pinch of salt and pepper (there is no need to purée the marinade). Marinate the chicken in this mixture as described in Step 2, then thread the chicken onto the skewers alternately with 1 pint whole cherry tomatoes. Grill or broil as described in Step 4.

Tips
  • Chicken thighs are much more forgiving when grilled or broiled than white meat.
  • As you thread the skewers, be sure to leave about ¼ inch between pieces of meat so the heat can circulate. For easier turning, run 2 parallel skewers through the pieces. You can incorporate vegetables, but it’s easier to control cooking times if you put different ingredients on separate skewers. If you want to mix meat and vegetables, choose vegetables that you expect will cook in about the same time as the meat.

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