Friday, July 6, 2012

Grilled Chicken, Mushroom and Bok Choy Kebabs

This is a great summer recipe for a grilled meal that's healthy and very satisfying.  If you're not familiar with bok choy (also known as Chinese cabbage), it's a crunchy vegetable with a white stalk and leafy green tops and it's a good source of vitamin A.  The taste reminds me of a cross between celery and cabbage.  It's available in a full-sized mature version and also as baby bok choy.  I prefer baby bok choy because it can be cooked whole or in halves and looks more interesting than the full-sized variety.  (Plus I think baby vegetables are cute.)  Watch for baby bok choy at your local grocer or farmers market.  If you can't find it, full-sized boy choy can be substituted - just chop it into manageable pieces and then blanch and skewer as per the recipe.

In this particular recipe, the crunchy and slightly bitter bok choy contrasts beautifully with meaty cremini mushrooms and chicken thighs that have been marinated in a very flavorful Asian sauce.  The marinade is absolutely fabulous but be sure to use low sodium soy sauce if you're trying to watch your salt intake.  (Hot tip of the day - Trader Joe's soy sauce actually has less sodium the the low-sodium versions I've found in other stores.)

We've all seen pictures of really pretty kebabs that alternate ingredients on the same skewer such as chicken, onion, peppers, etc.  The only problem is that the ingredients need different cooking times so you can end up with some either undercooked or overcooked.  If you put each type of ingredient on a different skewer you avoid the problem.  For example, in this recipe we put the bok choy, mushrooms, and chicken pieces each on their own skewers as you can see in the top photo.  The bok choy are cut in half and blanched, then the  leaves are folded back when skewered so they don't flop all over and burn on the grill.

both sides of the bok choy skewers

The marinade needs to be cooked and cooled plus the chicken needs to marinate for at least 3 hours, so plan to start this recipe in the morning or the night before you plan to grill.

The good news about kebabs is tht they don't take long to cook, which is really good if you live somewhere that's hot right now (approximateloy 100% of the country).  I've said before that The Lawyer likes to grill so much that he doesn't complain about temperatures (high or low) but even he has been checking the shade before grilling lately.  Yikes.  Time to buy investment property on The New Mediterranean (aka Lake Superior).

* * click here for a printable recipe * *

Chicken, Mushroom and Bok Choy Kebabs
Serves 6

3 large garlic cloves
½ reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup dry sherry
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled ginger
2 teaspoons toasted Asian sesame oil
1.5 lbs skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2” pieces
1 lb baby bok choy (5 to 6 heads)
½ lb. cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed flush with caps
½ cup vegetable oil
hot cooked white or brown rice

14 (12 inch) wooden skewers, soaked in water 30 minutes

Boil soy sauce, sherry and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 2/3 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt using the tines of a fork. When the sauce is reduced, stir in garlic paste, ginger and sesame oil, then cool to room temperature.

Pour half of marinade into a large sealable bag and chill the remainder for basting. Add chicken to bag and marinate, chilled, turning the bag occasionally, at least 3 hours.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, halve bok choy lengthwise and blanch in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Immediately transfer to an ice bath to stop cooking. Pat bok choy very dry, then, bending leaves, thread 3 or 4 halves (through the bulb and leaves) onto each of 3 or 4 skewers.

Toss mushrooms with vegetable oil. Thread mushrooms (through sides) and chicken onto separate skewers. Discard remaining marinade.

Grill the chicken approximately 3 minutes, basting occasionally, then flip and grill another 3 minutes. Meanwhile, grill the mushrooms approximately 2 minutes per side, basting on both sides. Grill the bok choy for about 90 seconds on the cut side only, just long enough to create grill marks.
Serve with hot cooked rice.

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