Chicken Souvlaki with a Lemon Oregano Marinade and Tzatziki
Chicken Souvlaki Adapted from Seemingly Greek: https://seeminglygreek.com/2011/06/22/chicken-souvlaki-with-a-lemon-oregano-marinade/
Tzatziki Adapted from Molyvos Restaurant, New York, New York: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tzatziki-recipe.html
The Summer Olympics start this week. But that’s not the number one reason why I made these Greek-inspired recipes. I woke up Monday morning and thought I’d try doing a Whole30 (basically, a month-long clean eating and drinking program). But considering it was the first of the month when I made this decision – and most importantly, I wasn’t prepared – I thought I’d do a Whole15 instead.
Then I realized that summer is almost over and the thought of not having rosé and cheese for these last few weeks of sunshine and warmth was going to make me super sad. And I know I would kick myself later when we reach the part of winter where it feels like it will never end. Having a refreshing, crisp glass of rosé with a plate of burrata covered with garlic and wine-soaked tomatoes isn’t as enjoyable when you’re bundled up with three-layers of clothing on and the sun seems to be out for only a couple of hours a day. Who am I kidding? I’ll still enjoy it. It’s wine and cheese! It’ll just be less of a tropical-vibe. (By the way, the burrata recipe will be coming up later this week on the blog. It is so good!)
So I came to the conclusion that instead of Whole30, Whole15, or even Whole5 I just wasn’t going to eat crap – for the majority of the week at least.
I think subliminally I decided to look up the recipes for chicken souvlaki and tzatziki, which I used to make frequently about 4 or 5 years ago, because of the upcoming Summer Olympics. I say subliminally because I have on constant repeat in my head the Today show’s Olympic trumpet theme. It’s like a non-stop ringing in my ears. Also, I caught this month’s episode of HBO’s REAL Sports with Bryant Gumbel, which was an hour-long investigation into how messed up and corrupt the International Olympic Committe is. It almost makes me not want to tune into the Olympics this time around. But the athletes worked so hard and they’re always so inspiring. Plus, I don’t think it’s fair to blame the athletes for something they didn’t do and aren’t responsible for. Guilt-by-association isn’t fair here…or anywhere, for that matter. But if you can, check out REAL Sports with Bryant Gumbel this month. It’s really eye opening.
Oh yeah, and another reason I can’t not watch the Olympics: Ryan Lochte. Enough said.
Regardless of my ear worm and lack of love for the IOC, the chicken souvlaki and tzatziki go well with my Whole-Or-Nothing diet/non-diet theme. I loves me some chicken, especially when its been marinating in fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic overnight. And there’s no sugar in the souvlaki or any unpronounceable ingredients – and that’s always a good thing.
I wanted to make the tzatziki, not only because it’s delicious and goes well with the souvlaki, but because it makes me think of the old Steve’s Greek Cuisine on Newbury St. in Boston. Sadly, Steve’s on Newbury closed a couple of years ago, but I heard that it’s still alive and kicking in Faneuil Hall. I’m sure the food is still good, but if you went to Steve’s, especially in the 80s, 90s, and even early 2000s, it might not be the same experience. Maybe I’m being biased because The Back Bay is my absolute favorite part of Boston. I used to love “hiking” all the way to Newbury and Hereford St. for the best avgolemono soup in the city and the most garlicky tzatziki I’ve ever had.
The tzatziki I made here isn’t nearly as garlicky, but I did add two cloves of garlic instead of one. I know, what a rebel. Tzatziki also goes well on top of a burger and with toasted pita or slices of cucumber for a snack. And of course, it goes well with rosé too.
- 2 lbs. chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 8 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 whole lemons)
- 6 - 8 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar (or just wine)
- 2 teaspoons Greek oregano (I couldn’t find Greek oregano and used regular oregano)
- 4 - 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
- salt and pepper
- wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
- 2 cups Mediterranean-style yogurt (I used the entire 17.6 oz. container of Fage Greek yogurt)
- 1 large English cucumber (peeled, shredded and drained) *see note below
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon mint, chopped
- 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Whisk all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Place about 5 or 6 pieces of chicken on each skewer and place in a shallow pan or dish. Pour marinade evenly over all of the souvlaki and let marinate overnight or at least a few hours, turning once.
- Prepare a gas or indoor grill. Depending on the thickness and size of your chicken, cook evenly on both sides until cooked and juices run clear.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.