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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Marinated Tunisian Chicken Kebabs with Raisin and Green Olive Relish

Marinated Tunisian Chicken Kebabs with Raisin and Green Olive Relish

Marinated Tunisian Chicken Kebabs with Raisin and Green Olive Relish
by Victoria Challancin

I have often suspected that I prepare main dishes just as an excuse to slip them under or alongside some dazzling condiment.  When I first discovered celebrity chef Susan Feniger's marinated chicken kebab recipe, that is just what I thought, "Wow, look at that relish and sauce!  Oh...and some chicken bits to go with it."  That, I fear, is how I frequently see recipes.

Susan Feniger, chef, renowned restauranteur, television personality, and cookbook author, outdid herself when she published Susan Feniger's Street Food:  Irresistibly Crispy, Creamy, Crunchy, Spicy, Sticky, Sweet Recipes, in which she serves up not only tempting recipes of street food from all over the world, but thrills with her personal travel anecdotes and photos, to inspire the home cook to reproduce authentic flavors and dishes back home, far from the steppes of Mongolia or the bazaars of Turkey.

This recipe works at several levels:  it can be prepared on the grill, in a grill pan or skillet on the stove, threaded onto kebabs, or simply served in cubes.  Maybe over rice...or pasta...or in a salad...or even a pasta salad.  And although the chicken is delightfully seasoned and works perfectly on its own (especially after I tarted it up a bit with a touch of garlic and chile), it is the two condiments that really make this recipe shine.  Half of the pepper marinade is reserved as a dipping sauce, but I found far more uses that a mere dipping sauce for this delectably-seasoned condiment.  In my house, it found its way into tuna salad, on crackers with cheese, in vegetarian wraps, and more.  And the accompanying relish, with its chunky textures and sweet-salty flavors, is equally good.  I've already had requests from my family to make more, chicken or not!

Marinated Tunisian Chicken Kebabs with Raisin and Green Olive Relish

Cook's Notes:  I used only chicken breasts instead of thighs, which worked fine.  Just be careful not to overcook the chicken.  Peppadew peppers, with their delicate flavor, are preferred; however, other fire-roasted jarred bell peppers could be substituted.  Because I had no access to currants, I substituted raisins in this luscious recipe. And while I am certain that currants would be wonderful, the raisins worked beautifully as well.  I might double up on the relish the next time I make this, as I surely will--it is just that good!  I also added a clove of garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, because I couldn't help myself and they proved to be nice additions indeed.  As this was taught in a cooking class with many other dishes, I just didn't have time to light the grill, which would be the preferred way to prepare these by far.  Still, even cooked in a skillet and then threaded on to a skewer, this chicken is simply delicious.


  • Once cooked and chilled, this dish would work well mixed into a green salad.  Simply use some of the reserved marinade as the dressing and toss the chicken and some relish with the mixed greens.  
  • Also, if you are keen on pasta salads, you could toss the chicken, some marinade, and the relish with fusilli or other cooked pasta of choice.  
  • Leftovers, chopped fine, would be great on crostini or even a modern take on pizza
  • I used leftover marinade to smear on vegetarian wraps, which added a lovely, richly-flavored kick to them (sometimes with tuna or egg salad or hummus or cheese, and with tomatoes, avocados, and alfalfa sprouts)

Recipe:  Susan Feniger's Tunisian Chicken Kebabs with Raisins and Olives

2 medium red bell peppers
1 cup dried currants or raisins
One 14-oz jar sweet Peppadew or other sweet pickled red peppers, 1/2 cup of the juices from the jar reserved
1 large garlic clove, optional
1 or 2 pinches red pepper flakes, optional
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
Kosher salt
3 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1-inch-wide strips (or cubes)
3 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, lightly pounded and cut into 1-inch-wide strips (or cubes)

Roast the bell peppers directly over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning until charred all over. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool.  Peel, seed, and core the peppers.

Meanwhile, soak the currants or raisins in 1/2 cup of hot water until plump, about 5 minutes.  Drain and transfer the raisins to a blender.  Add the roasted peppers, Peppadews and their liquid and the 1 cup of olive oil.  If using the added garlic and red pepper flakes, add them now.  Puree.  Season the marinade lightly with salt.

Thread the chicken breast and thigh strips separately onto 30 to 40 bamboo skewers and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet.  Pour half of the marinade over the chicken, turning to coat completely. Refrigerate for 4 hours.  Refrigerate the remaining half of the marinade in a serving bowl.

Light a grill (or alternately heat an oiled grill pan or heavy skillet and work in batches).  Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess drip off.  Season the chicken with salt.  Oil the grill grates and grill the chicken skewers over high heat, in batches if necessary and turing with tongs, until lightly charred and cooked through, about 8 minutes for the breasts and 10n minutes for the thighs. Serve the kebabs hot or at room temperature with the reserved marinade and the Tunisian Relish (recipe below)

Make ahead:  The marinade can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
The extra marinade doubles as a dipping sauce

Cook's Notes:  I will certainly double this relish recipe the next time I make it.  It is wonderful with tuna, on crackers with cheese, on crostini--so many uses.  

Recipe:  Tunisian Relish
1 cup dried currants or raisins
1 cups pitted green olives, roughly chopped
1 cup sweet Peppadew peppers, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
Kosher salt

In a bowl, soak the currants or raisins in hot water until plump, about 5 minutes.  Drain, pressing out the excess water.  Return the raisins to the bowl and add the olives, Peppadews, olive oil and vinegar. Season the relish with salt.

On the left is the marinade/dipping sauce; on the right, the olive relish.  Yum.

Parting Shot:  Jennifer's Heads

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Please do not use text or photos without permission.  Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Another delish recipe I'm going to have to try!

Where are Jennifer's heads from?

Eha said...

Oh my, now you have done it, Vicki! How can I work with this in my mind . . . has to be tried NEXT!! Altho' no immediate guests awaited, I'll make the whole 1 1/2 kgs of thighs as it can be used in so many ways. Altho' I have cooked Moroccan for decades I have to admit I have so liked the few Tunisian recipes which have come my way, and loved both Yotam Ottolenghi and Rick Stein's lessons on the country. Now I have to look up Susan Feniger as well: hmm :) ! And I believe I'll make this with raisins also!! And I do believe you have your forthcoming tour to Morocco well and truly in mind!!

Eha said...

Vicki ~ have just looked up the terrific Susan Feniger 'Street Food' book: Now I AM in trouble as I already have two big books on my wish list! But looking at the first lot of her recipes - almost all new to me, all quite fascinating . . . oh my . . .

Hotly Spiced said...

I love the look of that relish. It has interesting ingredients and I'd love to try it. Your orange plate is gorgeous xx

Hotly Spiced said...

I love the look of that relish. It has interesting ingredients and I'd love to try it. Your orange plate is gorgeous xx

Lorraine Not Quite Nigella said...

I love the sound of this relish I must say! And you should see my fridge-it is totally full of condiments! :)

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I just used the last of my raisin…I must buy more and try this delicious sounding recipe.

My Kitchen Stories said...

Yes I love relish and sauce too. The whole dish looks good, but particularly the green olive rekish

Joan Nova said...

I laughed reading your first paragraph. I'm exactly the same way, particularly when I go to a restaurant -- it's always the condiments, accompaniments and preparation that sells me on a dish.
I think that's a wonderful relish and will definitely be trying it -- or something like it. Think it would be good accompaniment to fish too.

Rsgoldfast said...
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Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Just stopped by to say "hello"…I miss your inspiring recipes. Hope all is well with you. :)

Fifa14.vipmmobank said...
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Yasmeen Elsayed said...
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Emma @ PovoChef said...

So bright and colourful!!! Looks amazing!