Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking (Page Street Publishing, 2018) by Jessica Gavin breaks down the practical science behind great food without overwhelming the reader. Learn the science how foods interact from a cooking or baking perspective and how to make flavorful, flawless meals consistently. This recipe for Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Skewers with Apricot Glaze will satisfy both your sweet and savory meal cravings.
Fire up the grill because these chicken skewers are loaded with flavor and ready to sizzle! The chicken is marinated in a mixture of pungent spices then glazed with a sweet apricot sauce to deliver the flavors of Morocco to each skewer. These savory sweet chicken skewers have an explosion of spices and aromatics, taking your taste buds on a culinary journey.
Too much time in the acidic lemon marinade can change the chicken’s protein charge and cause it to become dry. The acidic environment makes the protein reach an isoelectric point of pH 5.2. The proteins come closer together and squeeze out any liquid in between.
By increasing the surface area of the chicken, there is more opportunity for the water-soluble flavor compounds like garlic and ginger to be infused into the meat, while fat-soluble compounds like spices stick to the surface and hit your tongue first. The salt plays a huge role in not only seasoning the chicken, but when diffused in liquid, restructures the proteins in the meat to allow for gaps that fill with water to create a more juicy piece of meat. When marinating chicken breasts, allow for 30 minutes at minimum and up to 1 hour. A brief marinating time prevents dry chicken and mushy texture from the acids in the lemon juice. The grill is an excellent quick-cooking dry-heat method, rapidly creating flavors through Maillard browning when the surface temperature of the food reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp minced ginger
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 10 skewers, soaked in water for 15 minutes if wooden
For the Apricot Glaze:
- 1/2 cup apricot preserves
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp sliced mint leaves, divided
- Slice each chicken breast into 3/4- to 1-inch thick strips. Be sure to slice with the grain so it yields a long piece. Each breast should yield about 4 to 6 strips depending on size.
- In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag or baking dish. Add the chicken and marinate at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. Thread the chicken onto the skewers and set aside.
- To prepare the apricot glaze, whisk together the apricot preserves, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, and stir to combine. Cook for an additional 30 seconds if needed until the glaze is smooth. Add 2 teaspoons of the mint and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Heat the grill to medium heat. Add a small amount of oil to a folded piece of paper towel, and carefully grease the grill with the oil. Once the grill is very hot, add the chicken skewers. Cook the first side for 5 minutes, flip over and brush with the apricot glaze. Close the lid and cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink, and the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Coat the other side of the chicken with the apricot glaze. Garnish with 1 teaspoon of sliced mint. Transfer to a clean plate and serve hot.
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Reprinted with permission from Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking by Jessica Gavin, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018.