Tue Jun 10, 2014
Although not one of my top foods, skewers do tend to be one of my favorite things to do at the Meatwave. They're an awesome party food and especially apt for the medium-sized get togethers I frequently host. For one, the small cubes of meat on a stick cook fast and are easy to manage, shortening my time by the grill and increasing my ability to socialize. Second, I can prepare them ahead of time, so it's just grab and go from the fridge when guests are here. Third, I can grill up a variety of different skewers at once as opposed to the singular focus on one recipe at a time that's required for more complicated dishes. Finally, the ease of eating meat on a stick makes skewers just a better experience for all involved.
For all the pluses, there are an equal amount of minuses like they tend to put more limits on creativity, they require a more watchful eye to ensure they don't overcook, and all too often are just comparatively dull compared to other backyard staples like burgers and ribs.
So I'm left balancing my desire to make skewers, but continuing the tradition of delivering only the best to my guests, and that's where these bacon-wrapped chicken skewers with pineapple and teriyaki sauce really hit the mark.
These actually started out counterintuitive to making a great skewer—I picked chicken breasts over my preferred tastier and juicier chicken thighs. Breasts are great for skewers solely for their ability to easily be cut into uniform cubes. Everywhere else though, they fail. So I took some measures to make sure these chunks of fatless chicken would be as good as they can get.
This started with a brine, but considering the sweet teriyaki flavor I was going for, I saw an opportunity to inject a little Asian flavor into the chicken from the get go here. I swapped out a large portion of the salt in this brine in favor of soy sauce to embed the chicken with a little bit of umami this versatile condiment brings to the party.
After brining, the chicken was patted dry and cut into 3/4" cubes as uniformly as possibly. Since chicken breasts are quick to dry out, making the pieces the same size is of big importance—if they're all roughly equal, they'll cook at the same rate, so no piece will overcook while you're waiting for other pieces to finish.
I wasn't convinced that a brine and uniformity was enough to guarantee excellent chicken breasts though, so I went one step further and wrapped them in bacon. Well, this was actually planned from the start, as I wanted that smoky bacon flavor in there to add complexity and contrast to the sweet glaze, but the bacon did double duty by protected the chicken just a little bit from the direct fire.
The wrapped chicken was threaded onto skewers, alternating with chunks of pineapple. They were then brought to the grill and cooked over direct heat. The fatty bacon pretty much ensured flare-ups would be an issue—little columns of flames rose as the rendering fat hit the charcoal. So I kept a close eye on the skewers and moved them around if the flare-ups ever got too intense.
As the bacon cooked, the flare-ups reduced, and it was then safe to baste. In the final minute or two these kabobs were on the grill, I brushed on a sweet teriyaki sauce which cooked down to a glistening glaze.
Sweet, salty, fruity, smoky, meaty—these covered a lot of bases without one ounce of the cardboard-like chicken that adorns flame-cooked skewers all too often. I felt accomplished in my task of not only making sure skewers with chicken breasts didn't suck, but they were also something I would proudly serve to Meatwavers who have come to expect nothing but the highest standards.
Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Skewers with Pineapple and Teriyaki Sauce
- Prep Time:
- 20 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 45 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 10 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 1 Hour 15 Minutes
- 6-8 servings
- For the Brine
- 7 cups cold water
- 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 pound halved bacon slices
- 1 large pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cup teriyaki sauce
- Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes prior to use
- To make the brine: Whisk together water, soy sauce, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until solids are completely dissolved. Place chicken breast in brine and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.
- Cut chicken into 3/4-inch cubes. Wrap each piece of chicken with 1/2 a slice of bacon. Thread bacon-wrapped chicken on skewers, alternating with pineapple cubes.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill skewers until bacon has browned and crisped and chicken has cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. In the last minute of cooking, brush each skewer with teriyaki sauce all over. Remove to a platter, let rest for 5 minutes, then serve immediately with remaining teriyaki sauce.