Greek cuisine is a tapestry of rich flavors and diverse textures. From the sharpness of feta cheese to the deep notes of olive oil, every dish is a sensory delight. Among the array of Greek delicacies, Chicken Souvlaki, akin to the renowned Greek Gyro, emerges as an evergreen favorite.
This iconic dish, characterized by its succulent chicken morsels soaked in a vibrant lemon-garlic marinade, epitomizes the spirit of Greek summertime barbecues. Join us as we journey through the nuances of Chicken Souvlaki, from its storied past to its preparation and presentation. And as a special treat, at the end of this article, we’ve included some delectable variations of this classic for you to explore!
A Glimpse into the World of Chicken Souvlaki
Souvlaki, a term derived from the Greek word meaning “grilled meat on a skewer,” is a staple in Greek street food culture. Unlike its close relatives, the kabobs, which are often paired with vegetables on the skewer, Souvlaki focuses solely on the meat. This allows the flavors of the marinade to shine through, complemented by the smoky char from the grill. The dish is traditionally served with a side of fresh veggies, Greek dolmades or a Greek salad, but the pièce de résistance is the drizzle of tzatziki sauce, adding a creamy and refreshing dimension to the meal.
Chicken Souvlaki Ingredients:
- Chicken: Go for boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the best grilling experience.
- Marinade: A blend of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, garlic, oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper.
- Tzatziki Sauce: While store-bought versions work, a homemade tzatziki sauce, whether traditional or vegan, elevates the dish.
- Paprika: A mild spice that adds depth and a hint of smokiness to the marinade.
Greek Chicken Souvlaki Recipe
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes
- ⅓ cup of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 1 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- tzatziki sauce
- Preparation of Marinade:
- In a mixing bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, oregano, parsley, paprika, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well-blended.
- The addition of paprika not only enhances the color but also imparts a subtle smokiness.
- Marinating the Chicken:
- Cut your chicken breasts into 1 ½-inch cubes, ensuring they are of uniform size for even cooking.
- Place the chicken cubes in the marinade, ensuring each piece is well-coated.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. While 30 minutes is the minimum, marinating overnight will intensify the flavors.
- Grilling the Chicken:
- Heat up your grill or grill pan to medium-high heat for optimal cooking.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. This ensures even cooking.
- Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto skewers, spacing them slightly apart to ensure all sides cook evenly.
- Place the skewers on the grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. The chicken should have a charred exterior and a juicy interior.
- Use a meat thermometer to confirm the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
- Lay the grilled Chicken Souvlaki on a serving platter.
- Drizzle with tzatziki sauce or serve it on the side for dipping.
- Garnish it with lemon wedges and fresh parsley for an added touch.
Falling for this Chicken Souvlaki magic? Light up your Pinterest board by pinning the image below and let others in on this Greek delight! 🍢Inspire a culinary journey!
Tips for the Perfect Chicken Souvlaki:
- Marination: The longer the chicken marinates, the more flavorful it will be. However, avoid marinating for more than 24 hours as the lemon juice can start to break down the chicken.
- Grilling: Ensure the grill is adequately preheated. A hot grill gives the chicken those desirable grill marks and seals in the juices.
- Serving: Chicken Souvlaki pairs beautifully with a side of Greek salad, pita bread, or even roasted vegetables.
1. Pork Souvlaki:
- Description: For those who prefer pork over chicken, this variation offers a richer and more robust flavor profile.
- Instructions: Replace chicken with pork tenderloin, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes. Follow the same marinating and grilling process.
2. Spicy Souvlaki:
- Description: Add a kick to your Souvlaki with a touch of heat.
- Instructions: Incorporate a teaspoon of red chili flakes or a finely chopped fresh chili to the marinade. Grill as per the original recipe.
3. Herb-Infused Souvlaki:
- Description: Fresh herbs can elevate the aromatic profile of your Souvlaki.
- Instructions: Add finely chopped fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme to the marinade. Grill as instructed.
4. Lemon-Herb Souvlaki:
- Description: A zesty variation that brings out the freshness of lemon combined with aromatic herbs.
- Instructions: Double the amount of lemon juice in the marinade and introduce lemon zest. Add fresh dill or mint for a refreshing twist.
5. Mediterranean Souvlaki:
- Description: A fusion of flavors that encapsulates the essence of the Mediterranean.
- Instructions: To the marinade, add finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes and olives. This will give the Souvlaki a tangy and briny flavor, reminiscent of the Mediterranean coast.