Cook's Illustrated Recipes»Marinades»Middle Eastern»Chicken»Middle Eastern Marinade for Chicken Kebabs Recipe

Marinades can add deep flavor if used for the correct amount of time.

The Problem

Dry chicken, charred chicken, and bland chicken are all possible outcomes for even the best-intentioned griller of chicken kebabs.

The Goal

Grilled kebabs of chicken and fresh vegetables are simple and practical, and they can be delicious. We wanted succulent, well-seasoned kebabs that really tasted like they'd been cooked over an open fire.

The Solution

What we discovered was that marinating the chicken not only flavors meat but can help it retain moisture--no surprise, perhaps. But the kind of marinade used turned out to be quite important. Olive-oil based marinades helped to infuse the meat with flavor without causing its texture to deteriorate. And they had to contain salt. We knew that brining--immersing food in a solution of salt and water (and sometimes sugar and other spices) before cooking--causes meats to retain moisture when cooked. But we worried that a "true" brine would make the small skinned pieces of chicken used for kebabs too salty. What did work was adding a teaspoon of salt to our oil marinade, along with herbs and spices for more flavor.