Spicy Datil Pepper Chicken Kabobs and Syrian Rice Pilaf. Something different for the Fourth of July Celebration. My youngest son is home for the summer, and has been helping me in the kitchen. Hunter is turning into quite a chef. He’s interested in all things grilled these days, and with the summer upon us, cranking up the grill is preferable to heating up the whole kitchen. Hunter wanted to make chicken kabobs, so I let him go. He prepared the meat and vegetables, with very little cueing from me.
Kabobs need marinade, and I had just the thing: Old St Augustine Fountain of Youth Datil Marinade. It’s made in small batches with only the finest quality, all-natural ingredients. Fountain of Youth Datil Marinade is made with fresh local datil peppers, and six fruits, including mango, orange, key lime, pineapple, grapefruit and raisins. Onion, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce provide a nice well rounded flavor. This blend of fruits and spices combined with the datil peppers is dynamite. Natural sugars from the fruits caramelize when they hit the grill or your hot pan, giving your meat and vegetables a real punch of flavor.
Question: Does marinade tenderize meat? Answer: No.
Myth: Marinating tenderizes meat. Fact: Marinade adheres to the outer layers of the meat, giving it flavor, and making it more juicy. Meat does not absorb marinade.
Science lesson:Absorption would mean the marinade goes throughout all the layers of the meat. Instead, marination is the process of adsorption, where the marinade adheres to the outer layers of the meat only.
By using thinner slices of meat, or in this case, cutting the chicken in smaller pieces, there is more surface area for the marinade to adhere, giving more flavor to the dish overall. Thick cuts or portions of meat can be injected with marinade to ensure that the marinade is distributed more evenly throughout, if you wish.
Really good cuts of meat don’t require marination or tenderizing at all. Just a little of one of my seasoning blends or salt and pepper before cooking will season the meat perfectly. You can always add a pan sauce made with wine or marinade when you serve the meat, if you are looking for a more gourmet option.
Since we wanted as much surface area as possible to pick up the flavor of the marinade, Hunter cut the chicken into bite sized chunks. He put the chicken into a large zip top bag, which was placed in a bowl to prevent any leakage. For an extra layer of flavor, Old St Augustine Datil Jerk Jamaican Seasoning Blendwas sprinkled on the chicken. The marinade was then poured over the chicken, massaged in, and all the air was pushed out of the bag before sealing and placing it in the refrigerator. (Don’t leave your chicken in the marinade over 24 hours as the outer fibers will start to macerate and become mushy. Your chicken and your taste buds will thank you!)
The vegetables were also cut into chunks and marinated at the same time, in a separate zip top bag. I don’t recommend marinating the chicken and vegetables together. Once the chicken comes out of the marinade, you need to throw it out. Don’t ever reuse the marinade from poultry, or you will have a cross-contamination nightmare.
I scoured the kitchen looking for the dozen or so metal skewers I just knew I had. Apparently they grew legs and walked, since they were nowhere to be found. If my kids were still small, I would have sworn they had confiscated the skewers to use as swords or some diabolical means of torturing each other. I used to hide the rolling pins and meat forks for that very reason! A lot of my cooking utensils went missing during those years when I had all the boys at home. I could usually find my serving spoons, colanders and pots in the sandbox, or somewhere in the back yard where they had been taken and abandoned. Of course, they never brought anything back. My boys are all grown and have moved away now, with the exception of Hunter, and he denied having anything to do with the disappearing skewers. Fortunately, I did find a package of long wooden skewers in the drawer. We put them in a pan and covered them with water to prevent them from burning on the grill.
After 2 hours, Hunter drained the marinade from the chicken and the vegetables, and carefully placed the pieces on the wooden skewers. Hunter is my artist in the family. He spent the past year at the Sequential Arts Workshop in Gainesville, Florida and it was phenomenal. I know most of you are wondering what the heck sequential arts are. Simply put, it is the art of drawing comics. Comics. That’s all Hunter has wanted to do since he was in the first grade. He has always had a pencil in his hand drawing something. Although not comics, hIs artwork adorns the labels of all my OSA Gourmet products. At almost 20 years old, Hunter has a knack for designing graphic artwork. Go to www.osagourmet.com to check them out. That’s where you’ll find the Old St Augustine Fountain of Youth Datil Marinade , and the Datil Jerk Jamaican Seasoning used in this recipe.
The Rice Pilaf was inspired by some amazing Syrian friends, the Coreys. They’ve been a part of my family for as long as I can remember. I lovingly call them Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Tom, even though they aren’t related by blood. Some of the most amazing food I ate as a child came out of their kitchen: Shawarma bread, kibbe, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, baklava and more. The Corey family is near and dear to my heart, and everytime I make this rice, I think of the wonderful memories I have of spending time with them and their family. You wouldn’t think of Syrians using a Jerk Seasoning, but many of the spices found in my Datil Jerk are used in their cooking: allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, paprika, and ginger. This rice dish is versatile. It pairs beautifully with most any main dish, and is better than any rice pilaf you can get in a box at the grocery store.
Enjoy. And have a happy and safe 4th of July! We take so much for granted living here in the United States. Our great country is worth celebrating.
Fourth of July Fountain of Youth Datil Pepper Chicken Kabobs
Gently massage the bag to ensure that all the vegetables are coated in the marinade and Datil Jerk.
Place the bowl with the vegetables into the refrigerator until ready to use.. If marinating more than 30 minutes, massage the vegetables in the marinade several times to make sure that the marinade is evenly distributed.
Place another large zip top bag into a large bowl. Place the chicken into the zip top bag.
Pour 1/2 cup Old St Augustine Fountain of Youth Datil Marinadein the bag to coat all the chicken pieces. (Approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup) and remove all the air from the bag. Remove all the air and close the bag tightly.
Gently massage the chicken to ensure that all the pieces are coated with the marinade and Datil Jerk.
Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 2 hours. If marinating more than 30 minutes, massage the chicken in the marinade several times to make sure that the marinade is evenly distributed.
Thoroughly clean all surfaces, including the cutting board, knife, and kitchen counters, with soap and hot water or a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach to disinfect. Make sure to wash your hands and under your fingernails to remove any germs from the chicken that may be lurking there.
Once you are ready to assemble the kabobs, remove the meat and vegetables from the refrigerator, and alternately place chicken and vegetables on the skewers.
Discard the marinade.
Let the kabobs rest and come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, prepare the grill.
Grill the kabobs approximately 15 minutes, turning several times until chicken is cooked through. Chicken should be 160 degrees internally and the juices should run clear.