“Chicken again?” That’s the familiar chorus in our home every time I mention it’s chicken for dinner. My husband starts the refrain, and the kids chime in with melodramatic groans and eye rolls. But I love a good challenge and nothing pleases me more than turning their collective “not again!” into “more, please!” Enter souvlaki: marinated and skewered chicken, grilled to perfection, and served alongside cooling tzatziki sauce. It’s a little taste of Greece that adds a twist to the usual chicken dinner, and I promise you, it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser!
The key to making good souvlaki lies in the marinade, which infuses the chicken with lemony, garlicky goodness while also ensuring each bite is tender and juicy. Similar to my go-to grilled chicken recipe, I don’t use lemon juice in my marinade. Despite popular belief, the acidity doesn’t tenderize the lean chicken breasts but can actually toughen them, resulting in a leathery texture. Instead, I use fresh lemon zest to impart a bright, lemony flavor. For the perfect meal, serve the souvlaki with warm pita bread, creamy hummus, and a colorful Greek salad. This combo is a feast fit for any gathering or just simple weeknight dinners in the backyard.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE SOUVLAKI
Step 1: Prep and Cook the Chicken
One at a time, place the chicken breasts in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag; using a meat mallet, pound to an even ½-inch thickness. (Skip this step if using chicken tenderloins.) Cut the meat into 2-inch chunks.
Mix all the ingredients except for the chicken together in a large bowl.
Stir to combine.
Add chicken pieces to the bowl.
Stir until evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Thread marinated chicken onto skewers, folding if the pieces are long and thin. Be sure not to cram the skewers. (Note: You’ll need about 6 skewers.)
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and, using tongs, dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and carefully wipe the grill grate several times to prevent sticking. Place the skewers on the grill and cook, covered, turning to brown evenly, until the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes total.
Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, briefly grill the pita bread until warmed through.
Step 2: Prepare the Tzatziki
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and chill for up to 2 days or until ready to serve.
Serve the souvlaki with tzatziki sauce and lemon wedges.
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