Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary
Damn the weather is funky this week, it is hard to believe it is July. There has been so much rain, I feel like I am living in a rainforest. Where did the summer go? I know rain is good for my garden, fills our reservoirs, and calms the earth, but man this constant shower is dreary. Before the deluge, I planned on making more recipes from my grill, but sadly these plans got flooded out. Fortunately, I could easily change plans with a chicken skewer recipe that has all the charm of a grilled dinner without lighting a match, Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary.
Seared chicken skewers are as easy to prepare as threading a needle. Ribbons of herb marinated chicken strips get skewered through rosemary stems then seared on a stove top grill pan or skillet. Once the chicken skewers get good and golden, they are popped in a hot oven to finish cooking in a wine bath. It may sound like a lot of steps, but the two-part cooking process goes by very quickly and effortlessly.
La Cucina Italiana
I first discovered the idea of using rosemary stems as skewers several years ago in La Cucina Italiana magazine, the English version, (May 2013). If you wish to browse through this lovely magazine online, you will need your browser to translate the pages for you. This picturesque magazine is all about Italian cuisine and Italy, and I only have this one volume. Their chicken skewer recipe is part of a feature on cooking with fresh herbs. I spotted their Spiedini di Pollo Marinato alle Erbe recipe, (which means herb marinated chicken skewers) because it uses woody rosemary stems for the skewers. What a clever use of something one would normally throw out.
We always have a lot of rosemary around our house because Joe makes a delicious sourdough olive rosemary bread for Rochambeau Farm Stand. Sometimes there is a lot of rosemary left over so I am always looking for recipes to use up any leftover sprigs. Fortunately, we buy our rosemary at a restaurant supply store and can get rosemary sprigs that are 10 to 12 inches long. These woody sprigs make the best skewers for grilling and a great substitute for bamboo skewers if you can get them.
Chicken Skewers with Rosemary
I love cooking with fresh herbs and use them whenever I can. A simple scattering of fresh herbs like basil, tarragon or rosemary lifts any food from standard fare to interesting and uplifting. This herb marinade is a good example of how using fresh herbs can make a big difference in flavor. It just wouldn’t taste the same if you made the marinade with dried herbs.
The only change I made is adding minced garlic to the marinade and Kosher salt to the chicken before adding the marinade. Adding the salt first gives the salt time to steep in the chicken meat. Boneless skinless chicken breasts need a lot of help developing flavor and I wanted the chicken to taste seasoned without being salty.
I thought the original recipe needed some more oomph, so I added a lot of garlic. What I then realized is this marinade is very similar to the marinade in my Lemon Herb Roast Chicken Recipe.
A bonus using this marinade is there is no acid to turn the chicken breasts mushy. As a result, you can easily prepare the marinade and chicken in advance, then skewer and cook the chicken right before you plan on eating.
Another aspect I like about this recipe is the two stages for cooking the chicken. First, you sear the chicken skewers, which only takes about 2 minutes per side, then the skewers are roasted in a very hot oven with some white wine. This creates a moist chicken with a light tasting pan sauce. This pan sauce helps keep the chicken tender and adds another layer of flavor to your meal.
If you wish, and already have the grill going for another food, sear the chicken skewers on your grill, then finish cooking them in the oven as directed.
Is It Done Yet?
The most difficult part about this recipe is determining when the chicken is done. Everything else is very straightforward. Like chicken kebab, the chicken gets packed in on the skewer making it difficult to determine when it is done. It is important to check the pieces in the middle of the skewer where it is compact and thus need a longer time to cook. Getting a good look at the inside of the chicken is difficult therefore a good instant read thermometer is your best tool for the job. I love my Thermapen thermometer, but any fast and reliable instant-read thermometer will work.
Vegetable Side dishes for Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary
These chicken skewers will pair well with many vegetables and sides. Here are just a few from my blog.
Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise
Check out my new Recipe Index. It is now easier to look up a recipe on my blog by clicking on a category in the recipe index. It is easy to read on a laptop or desktop computer. Unfortunately, the index and categories get spread out when viewing from a mobile device like your phone. You can find my recipe index at the top menu on my home page.
Seared Chicken Skewers with Rosemary
You can get long and woody rosemary sprigs at farmers markets, restaurant supply stores, or wholesale stores.
Seared Chicken Skewers with rosemary is an easy family meal or great for entertaining.
Depending on how big each chicken breast is, there is enough chicken for 4 people with hearty appetites or 6 to 8 people served with two other side dishes.
- 2-3 lb. (1 k -1.5 k) boneless skinless chicken breast -4 breasts
- 1 tsp (3 g) Kosher salt
- 3 - 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 heaping TB (10 g) heaping Tablespoons minced rosemary
- 1 tablespoon (1 g) thyme lemon thyme if you can get it
- 1 TB (1.5 g) minced parsley
- Zest of one lemon
- ¼ cup (60 ml) 70 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more for searing the chicken
- 8 - 10 bamboo skewers or long woody rosemary stems
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine or dry vermouth Like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
Press on the chicken breast so they have an even thickness. You do not have to pound them out, just even them out a little. Slice each breast lengthwise into ¼ inch (.5 cm) slices. Add the chicken ribbons to a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken without crowding them and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Using clean hands, mix the chicken with the salt until it is evenly incorporated. Thoroughly wash your hands and the bowl of chicken aside.
Prepare the herb marinade
In a small bowl add the minced garlic, minced rosemary, thyme, minced parsley, lemon zest, and olive oil. Stir to combine. Remember to wash your hands after you mix the chicken before you touch anything else.
Add the herb marinade to the chicken and toss with your hands until the chicken strips are evenly covered in the herb marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hrs.
Cook the Chicken
If you are using rosemary stems, cut the end to make a pointed tip for easy threading. Soak the bamboo skewers or woody rosemary stems in water for 30 minutes. Bring the chicken out of the refrigerator to rest on the counter and come up to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 450°F / 230°C / Gas Mark 8. Slide the oven rack in the middle position.
Thread each skewer with the chicken slices. You can roll up each slice and spear it on the skewers, or weave each slice of chicken, over and under the skewer creating a ribbon of chicken. Squish the threaded chicken to make room for another slice. Depending on the length of each skewer, you can fit 3 to 4 slices of chicken on each skewer. Be careful not to pack the chicken in too tightly.
Heat a grill pan or a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the grill pan is good and hot, add the chicken skewers to the pan. Only add enough skewers to not crowd the pan, about 3-4 skewers. Sear the chicken until nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Turn the chicken over and sear the other side, about 2 minutes more.
Place the seared chicken skewers in a baking dish large enough to hold all the chicken in a single layer without overcrowding, but small enough so the liquid won’t dry out when cooked. See Note.
Continue to sear the remaining skewers in batches until all the chicken is seared.
Add the white wine or dry vermouth to the baking dish holding the chicken skewers. Add more if the wine does not cover the bottom of the pan.
Place the chicken in the oven and roast until done, about 10 minutes. Start checking the chicken at around 8 minutes. A good instant read thermometer is your best tool here for determining if the chicken is done. Aim for an internal temperature of 165°F / 74° C. Once done, take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Serve hot with pan juices with grilled asparagus or zucchini.
The original recipe calls for a 9" x 13" (23 x 33 cm) baking dish. That is a little too small to fit 8 skewers without overlapping. Often, I needed to nestle each skewer around the dish with some laying vertical and others horizontal at the top and bottom of the dish. Trim each skewer to help them fit easily in the pan. Other times I used a larger baking dish 15" x 10.5" (38 x 27 cm) which is a tad too big. When I use a bigger baking dish I add more wine to make sure the liquid covers the bottom of the pan, so it does not dry out in the oven.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken
It is obvious, roast chicken is one of my favorite foods. To me it is pure comfort food at its best. The perfect roast chicken has tender and juicy meat with rich flavors that only roasting can bring. Unfortunately, when my children were young, having roast chicken for dinner was an event because it took so long to make. I wish I knew then what I know now. Those oven-stuffer birds of the 90’s would roast in half the time if I removed the backbone. This technique is also known as, spatchcock chicken. A whole chicken with its back bone removed and laid flat in a skillet or roasting pan.
In the 90’s, I knew about Chicken Under a Brick, but I did not transfer that information to my roast chicken recipes until later. From my years as a cook in a gourmet food store, I learned how to cut up a whole chicken into 8 pieces. I knew the process and was very confident using sharp knives and handling raw meats. For whatever reason, I did not cut up the chicken at home. If I had, those 7 pounds plus oven-stuffer roasters would have made a more frequent appearance on my dinner table. The usual 2 1/2 hours roasting in the oven would decrease to 1 hour 15 minutes. It still takes time to roast a spatchcock chicken, but it is more reasonable. Better late than never.
Prep a Spatchcock Chicken
Like traditional roast chicken, spatchcock chicken lends itself to an infinite variety of seasoning and types of cuisines. It is delicious plain marinated in buttermilk, salt and paprika, or seasoned with Middle Eastern flavors like Za’atar, fennel and preserved lemons. Take a culinary trip around the world with spatchcock chicken by simply adjusting the herbs and seasonings.
No matter what flavor profile you want, chicken tastes best when seasoned with salt, several hours before cooking. If I plan correctly, I will spatchcock and season a chicken with Kosher salt and keep it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. I prepare the chicken during dinner cleanup so I don’t dirty a clean kitchen. Often, I am likely to forget about this step if I wait till the morning of. I admit there were times I forgot. If that happens, season the chicken with salt then leave it to rest at room temperature for an hour. Even that bit of time makes a difference in flavor and tenderness.
I never miss an opportunity to roast vegetables, especially potatoes, with chicken. After a long roast, the vegetables become luscious with pronounced flavor. For this recipe, this extra step is optional. If you roast the chicken in a skillet, roast the vegetables in a separate dish. It will be too crowded in the skillet, and the chicken will steam. Sheetpans are perfect pans for roasting chicken with vegetables.
What is for dessert? Try Double Coconut Pie
Honey mustard spatchcock chicken is a family favorite and so easy to make. All you have to remember is use equal parts honey and mustard. Any additional amounts of herbs and spices is up to you and your taste buds. Personally, I love sage and chicken together and believe it adds earthy notes against the sharp mustard and sweet honey. Also, I like this sweet and savory sauce with some heat from chili peppers. My preference with spicy ingredients is their heat hangs in the background without drowning the other herbs and spices. Sometimes adding a small amount of chili pepper makes the other ingredients more pronounced. Play around with the different herbs and spices and see what you create.
This recipe is also delicious cooked over indirect heat on the grill.
Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken
- 1 4-5 lb 2 K roasting chicken
- Kosher salt depending on the weight of your chicken, about 1TB
- 10 sage leaves - divided
- 1/4 cup (63 g) Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup (82 g) honey
- 1/8 - 1/4 tsp ground chili powder or to taste
Optional roasted vegetables
- 8 oz (385 g) small new potatoes cut in half or quartered
- 4 / 6 oz (170 g) shallots, peeled and cut in quarters
- 1/2 (about 216 g) fennel bulb sliced in thin wedges
- 4 garlic cloves cut in half lengthwise
- 12 oz (358 g) grape tomatoes
- 3 TB extra virgin olive oil - divided
- 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt- divided
- 3 sprigs of thyme
How to spatchcock a chicken.
1- Remove the neck and gizzards from the cavity of the chicken. Rinse the inside and outside with cold running water. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
2- Place the chicken on a cutting board breast side down with the legs pointing towards you.
The back bone runs through the middle of the back and is about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches wide.
3- Grab hold of the "tail" end with one hand and cut along a side of the backbone toward the neck with good kitchen scissors. Repeat on the other side of the back bone.
4- If you do not have kitchen scissors, score the skin through to the meat with a sharp chef's knife along each side of the backbone. Turn the chicken upright onto its neck, and slice along the side of the backbone. Cut through the skin, meat and bones down to the neck. Lay the chicken down and open the chicken up like a book, and cut through the other side of the backbone.
5- Once the backbone is removed, turn the chicken over breast meat facing up, and press down on the sternum until you hear a pop and feel the breastbone release and lie flat.
6- Tuck the wing tips under the back of the neck, or trim them off so they do not burn.
Save the backbone for chicken stock.
Prep the chicken
The night before, cut the back bone off the chicken.
Generously, sprinkle Kosher salt all over the chicken on both sides. Slide a sage leaf under the skin and on top of the breast meat on each breast. Repeat for each thigh. Let the salted chicken rest for 30 minutes uncovered on the counter.
Place the chicken in the refrigerator, uncovered overnight and up to 24 hours.
One hour before you want to begin cooking take the chicken out of the refrigerator. Let the chicken come to room temperature.
Putting it altogether
Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C)
While the chicken is coming to room temperature, make the honey mustard sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, honey, ground chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt until combined.
Rough chop, or snip with scissors, 4 sage leaves and add to the honey mustard. Taste and correct the seasonings.
Once the chicken has come to room temperature, baste the chicken on both sides with the honey mustard. Get a good even coat over the whole bird .
Place 4 sage leaves in the center of a low sided sheet pan, or 12-inch skillet,(30 cm) and place the chicken over the sage leaves.
If adding the optional vegetables, put the potatoes, fennel shallots and garlic into a medium bowl. Stir in 2 TB extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Add the prepared vegetables in an even layer around the chicken on a sheet pan. Then scatter the thyme sprigs over the vegetables.
Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile add the tomatoes in the same bowl you used for the vegetables, and stir in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Later, scatter the tomatoes around the vegetables after 20 minutes of roasting.
If you have honey mustard sauce left, baste the chicken with the remaining sauce. Use up all the honey mustard sauce.
Rotate the pan left to right and front to back, and roast for 20 minutes more. Check the chicken and vegetables to see if they are done cooking. The chicken is done cooking when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is at 165°F (74°C) and the breast meat is 170°F (77°C), and the juices run clear. There should be no cloudy, pink or blood color in the meat juices. Make sure you check the temperature of both breasts and thighs. The vegetables are done when they are tender in the middle when pierced with a fork.
If the chicken is not done, continue to roast and check at 5 - 10-minute intervals depending on how much more the chicken needs to roast. Often the breast and thighs cook at different rates and one is done roasting before the other. If either part is done and you still have a way to go before the other portion of the chicken is done, cut off the done part and let it rest on a carving board.
If the vegetables are finished roasting before the chicken, remove the vegetables and place in a serving dish or plate. You want the vegetables to be tender, but still maintain its shape. Keep the vegetables warm while the chicken is roasting.
When the chicken is done, place it on a carving board and let it rest for 10 - 15 minutes before cutting it up.
Cut into 8 pieces and place on a platter surrounded by the roasted vegetables. Serve family style.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
One Pan! One Meal! Let’s Eat Together and Feel all Right.
Bob Marley’s song, One Love, is swayin’ in my head. “One Love! One Heart! Let’s get together and feel all right.” Where it came from is anybody’s guess, but I am swayin’ and singing along with Bob Marley as I write. I hear his soothing and rhythmic voice clearly which is a lot nicer than the lawn mowers and cars that can drudge on in the background for the whole day. “One love! One Heart! Let’s get together and feel all right.” If I am to get a song stuck in my head, this mantra is a good one: a reminder to give thanks.
I am working and dancing around different music genres today, looking for inspiration everywhere. Earlier I had Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite waltzing through my mind while I was editing photographs of baby turnips. It is so easy to take ordinary things for granted, but I have found since I started photographing ordinary things like turnips, I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary, and I see it within the shape, color and texture of the objects.
While I was photographing turnips, I started to admire the grace, shape and color of young turnips, and they reminded of the dancing fairies in Disney’s movie Fantasia. Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite started playing in my head along with images of dancing turnip ballerinas. Photographing baby turnips inspired fun visual imagines: my next task was to discover what delicious characteristics the humble turnip has to offer.
There is nothing sexy about turnips. Even the name is off-putting and harsh. No one is going to lean in and whisper in a sultry voice, “Would you like to taste my turnips?” Who do you think could pull that off? Before you find your way to the exit door, stop and consider giving the humble turnip a try for your next dinner idea.
Sheet Pan Dinner with Chicken, Carrots, Turnips and Tarragon
Young turnips bulbs have a smooth and pearly white flesh with fresh green leaves that have a peppery smell. If you can get turnips with their greens intact use them in your meal. Other than soup, turnips can be braised or roasted, and pair well with carrots and other root vegetables. I particularly like turnips braised in butter with leeks, carrots, and fresh tarragon.
Combining turnips with carrots and chicken makes a simple and delicious family meal, that everyone in your family will enjoy and want to come together for a weeknight dinner. The dinner preparation becomes easier when you roast all the ingredients together in one pan. Oven roasted carrots add body and extra sweetness to the baby turnips, and oomph to the chicken. This sheet pan dinner recipe will make a delicious meal and satisfy the demands of fussy eaters. There will be no disagreements at your family table when you offer everyone’s favorite pieces of chicken along with sweet roasted vegetables.
Common does not mean plain and boring. Find inspiration in all things and gather together for a delicious family dinner. One pan! One meal! Let’s eat together and feel all right.
Mediterranean Style Roast Chicken with Carrots, Turnips and Tarragon
- 1 4-5 lb 2k chicken, or already cut up (bone in, skin on) chicken pieces (See Note)
- 1 Tb minced garlic approximately 2-3 large cloves of garlic
- 1 1/2 tea Herbs de Provence
- 1 tea Kosher salt
- 1 Tb olive oil
- Fresh ground pepper (4-5 turns with the mill)
- 1 lb about 450 g baby turnips
- 1 lb about 450 g small carrots
- 8 oz about 250 g mushrooms
- 1/2 tea Kosher salt
- 4 sprigs fresh tarragon divided
- 1 Tb olive oil
- Juices from roasting chicken
- 1/2 cup 125 ml dry white wine
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup 62 - 125 ml chicken or vegetable broth (low sodium if not homemade)
For the Chicken
If you have a whole chicken, cut the chicken up into 8 pieces .
You can follow the instructions on the link or just use already cut up chicken. Once the chicken is cut up spread the pieces across the cutting board.
Sprinkle the Kosher salt evenly over the chicken pieces on both sides of the chicken.
In a large bowl, big enough to hold all the pieces of chicken, add the minced garlic, olive oil, and Herbs de Provence, and ground pepper. Stir to combine. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl with the herbs and mix the chicken with the herb mixture until the herbs are evenly coated each piece of chicken.
Cover the bowl with the herbed chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours up to 24 hours.
Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 1 hour before you want to begin the cooking process. This will bring the chicken up to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375˚ F
If you have organic turnips and carrots, examine them for bruises and dirt and determine if they need to be peeled. Peel vegetables with a vegetable peeler if needed. Cut the turnips into wedges. Cut the carrots into sections similar in length with the turnips. Cut each carrot section in half lengthwise, then cut each half into wedges similar in size to the turnips.
Clean then cut each mushroom into quarters.
Place all the vegetables in to a medium size bowl and mix them together.
Strip the leaves off each tarragon sprig. Reserve the stems and divide the tarragon leaves into two piles. Take one of the piles and bunch the tarragon leaves together into a tight pile then mince with a sharp chef knife.
Add the minced tarragon, olive oil, Kosher salt and black pepper to the bowl with the vegetables. Mix together with your clean hands until the vegetables are evenly covered with the herbs and olive oil.
Save the other pile of tarragon leaves to add when the vegetables are done. Do not mince them until just before you add them to the vegetables.
Putting it all together.
Put the chicken pieces on a large rimmed sheet pan, my pan is 12 1/2" x 17 1/2" (32 cm x 44 cm), then arrange the prepared vegetables around the chicken pieces. Add the tarragon stems with the vegetables.
Put the chicken and vegetables into the pre-heated oven and bake for 40 minutes.
If the vegetables are done before the chicken, remove the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon and put in a heat proof dish. Remove and discard the tarragon stems. The vegetables are done when they feel tender, but not mushy, when pierced with a fork. Mince the remaining fresh tarragon and add to the roasted vegetables.
Cook the chicken until the juices from the chicken run clear after the chicken has been pierced with a fork. (Internal temperature of the chicken should be around 165 - 170 degrees F) When the chicken is done, take the pan with the chicken out of the oven, turn on the broiler and move the rack to the upper third portion of the oven. If you have not done so already remove the vegetables from the pan before you broil the chicken. Put the pan back in the oven to broil and crisp up the chicken skin, about 5 minutes.
When the chicken is done and skin crispy, put the baking sheet across two stove burners.
Remove the chicken from the pan and place the chicken on serving plate. Add the roasted vegetables to the platter with the chicken and cover with foil to keep warm.
Turn on the two stove burners to medium and pour 1/2 cup of dry white wine into the pan with the juices. Deglaze the pan by scraping with a wooden spoon, the brown, caramelized goodness off the sides and bottom of the pan. The liquid and the motion of the wooden spoon against the sides will get the golden color and flavor off the sides of the pan and into the juices. Bring the liquid to a gentle boil and slightly reduce. Add the chicken stock and continue you stir the juices until they come to a slight boil. Taste your pan juices and add, more stock, or wine, or seasoning to suit your taste. Be careful not to over salt the pan juices.
Pour the pan juices over the roasted chicken and vegetables and serve. A simple leafy green salad is a great accompaniment.
If you have never cut up a whole chicken before and are not comfortable starting it, feel free to buy chicken already cut up. It is good to have a good sharp chef knife and kitchen scissors when you cut through bone. If you do not own them buy whatever chicken parts you and your family prefer. The cooking time in this recipe is based on chicken with the bone in and skin on the meat. Sometimes already cut up chicken breasts are particularly large. If you cut chicken breasts in half across the middle they might finish cooking before the thighs and drumsticks. The video by NY Times Cooking is very instructive about how to cut up a whole chicken. I have been cutting up chickens for years and I learned new information from it.
Feeling ambitious? Make a delicious fruit gallette for dessert. You can substitute plums for nectarines, or any seasonal fruit.
© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.