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Monday, September 19, 2011

Chicken Souvlaki - Greek inspired of course

If you venture in to your local souvlaki joint you will see right next to the lamb, almost every time, is its best friend - Chicken. Merrily rotating over the grill, caramelising on the surface and just beckoning to be part of your souvlaki experience.  Chicken was a great addition to my Greek feast menu as sometimes just lamb won’t do.  After all, a culinary delight at souva joints, like those in Brunswick Street is the “Mixed Souva”.  Yes lamb and chicken married in a flavour bomb of garlic, herbs and fresh salad.  So if you want to make a mixed number then you had better get this chicken dish on your menu.  It also goes well on its own as a humble Chicken Souvlaki.
I use boneless Maryland pieces (drumsticks and thighs) for this dish as they are a good cut made for slow roasting and are easy to carve without bony bits.  The chicken is roasted in the oven until practically cooked and then it is finished on the grill so that it gets it a nice caramel crisp surface that resembles the rotisserie over charcoal, in the shops.  The marinade here is very similar to Lamb Souvlaki but as a special touch I have tried to incorporate what I call "chicken friendly" herbs like rosemary and sage - this is purely for a contrast you are most welcome to use the classic oregano and thyme if you feel that way inclined.  Keep in mind for best results it is recommended that you marinate the chicken the day before - for the total flavour infusion.


6 x Chicken Maryland fillets, skin removed
1 cup x Natural Yoghurt
2 Tbsp x Lemon Juice
¼ cup x Olive Oil
4-5 cloves Garlic, crushed
 ¼ cup x Sage leaves, freshly picked
6 sprigs x Rosemary, leaves picked
1 - 2 tsp x Salt
Store bought pita bread loaves 

Prepare the chicken by scoring 1 cm deep gashes along the outer side
Season lightly with 1 tsp salt
Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl, stir well to mix
Place marinade into a deep non-metallic dish
Add the chicken to the dish in one layer
Cover securely with cling wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 12 hours
Preheat oven to 175 degrees
Place chicken on a wire rack above a roasting dish 
Baste the chicken with any remaining marinade
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes on one side
Turn the chicken over and bake for a further 30 minutes
On the stove heat a grill pan or flat heavy bottomed pan
Grill the chicken pieces on high heat for about a minute on each side
Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes uncovered
Carve the chicken pieces into chunky slices

And as with the Lamb Souvlaki, build it up by taking a store bought pita bread loaf and filling with a generous serve of lettuce, tomato, onion and then topping with chunks of grilled chicken.  Squeeze on some fresh lemon juice and garlic sauce (Yoghurt infused with garlic).  Roll the pita up as best as you can and then chomp into it – there is no other way.  Keep napkins at arm’s reach because it is sure to get messy – but oh so good - guaranteed or your money back (just kidding I don't offer warranties!)   

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