Chicken Souvlaki with Lemon Mint Tzatziki

This particular souvlaki and tzatziki was definitely one of the best meals I’ve had this summer and I’m already craving more.

Greek food is a family favorite at our house and this simple but very flavorful souvlaki is yet another way to pull a great, quick meal off the grill in the waning days of summer. This particular souvlaki and tzatziki was definitely one of the best meals I’ve had this summer and I’m already craving more.

The chicken only needs be marinated for 15-20 minutes to infuse it with intense lemon garlic flavor. My souvlaki marinade also uses a small splash of balsamic vinegar and some smoked paprika for extra layers of flavor. This marinade also works very well with pork tenderloin or lamb,  both of which can be marinated much longer than chicken if you prefer, even overnight.

There are a couple of herbs that work well in a good tzatziki, including parsley or dill but my absolute favorite is finely chopped fresh mint that I pluck from a small herb bed in the garden, just a few feet from the kitchen door. Working against the tangy zing of lemon and Greek yogurt, I like the balancing freshness that mint brings to this bright accompaniment to a great souvlaki. It also makes a fantastic dressing for Greek salad or as a veggie dip.

We served this meal a couple of days ago with a simple Greek salad and instead of traditional pita bread we used the backyard grill once again to make some crispy, chewy garlic flatbreads which were perfect to round out this amazing meal. You can find that Flatbread recipe here.

Serves 4

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

I like to pound out the chicken breasts to about a quarter inch thickness to provide as much surface space as possible to accept the marinade and increase the flavor. I then cut the thin marinated chicken into about 1 x 3 inch pieces and fold them over before piercing the meat onto a skewer to grill.

Souvlaki Marinade

6 tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 rounded tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves minced garlic

Mix all the ingredients together and pour over the chicken in a Ziploc bag. Toss the chicken around well in the marinade to coat on all sides. Marinate in the fridge for 15 – 20 minutes. While the chicken is marinating, soak 4 – 6 long bamboo skewers in water. Pierce the chicken onto the skewers, alternating with pieces of sweet pepper or red onion. Cook on a preheated grill at medium high heat for about 6 minutes before turning over and grilling for an additional 6 minutes on the opposite side or until the chicken is completely cooked through.

Serve with a Greek Salad, flatbread and tzatziki.

Lemon Mint Tzatziki

3 cups Greek yogurt, drained.

Draining the yogurt removes much of the liquid and produces an end product about the consistency of thick sour cream. To drain the yogurt, line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth (or in a pinch, several large coffee filters) Pour the yogurt into the colander and place it in a large bowl or in the sink for an hour or two. This should produce about 2 cups of thick yogurt.

6 inch piece of English cucumber

Peel the piece of cucumber and remove the seeds and pulp at the center with a teaspoon, then dice the outside flesh of the cucumber into small cubes of  1/8 inch or less.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of kosher salt over the diced cucumber and toss together well. Let this rest for about a half hour, stirring occasionally. This process removes some of the liquid from the cucumber so that it will not water down the consistency of your finished tzatziki. Drain all of the liquid off the diced cucumber before adding it to the drained yogurt along with

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint

2 cloves minced garlic

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

pinch salt and pepper to season

Mix well, cover and store in the fridge for at least a half hour before serving.

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