It’s officially that time of year where everyone I went to high school with posts football memes and lols and sad posts when their team loses. Or if all things go according to plan they just disappear for a week because all the campaigning they did the week before was a huge waste of time.
Growing up, football was the same minus facebook because I am old enough to not grow up with facebook. It was all real life with dads in jerseys and random trash talk and ALL THE FOODS. Because if football is good for anything it’s getting a bunch of people together and eating 75% of everything covered in cheese. This is my heaven. So much so that I’ve teamed up with Kingsford Charcoal to talk about food and gathering and only going to football things for da food.
Today we’re talking about the one food not smothered in cheese: the classic chicken skewer aka a giant meat stick that you can either enjoy by itself or tossed in a warm corn tortilla for a really good taco.
When we were in Mexico last month I had some of the best tacos al pastor ever. Like ever ever. I made it my mission to come home and make something in the vein of that. The usual al pastor is stacks of pork and pineapple on a vertical rotisserie and I figured since I couldn’t swing the vertical rotisserie let’s just go super left field and grill some chicken skewers ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The open flame and that char on the meat is what’s helping me feel the fantasy.
This recipe’s actually perfect for game day because the chicken needs some time to marinate so you can prep it all the day before then skewer it the day of and grill it up for your gathering.
Some of the ingredients are a little tricky to find but not impossible (I’ve got the notes below), especially if you live near a mexican grocery store. While you’re there grab all the flan and tres leches for the party then forget to serve them so you have them all to yourself!
Now let’s make some meat.
Al Pastor Chicken Skewers
Makes 8 chicken skewers, or enough meat for a looot of tacos.
I live in Southern California so I am #blessed when it comes to access to Mexican grocery Stores (Cardenas is my usual go-to), but I can also find 95% of this at any old supermarket, just take a second to look, or try googling your area for a Mexican grocery store and try something new. The only thing that you’d need to go to a Mexican grocery store for is the achiote paste, but if you absolutely don’t have access then there’s here’s a link on Amazon (ps that same thing is 1.49 at Cardenas). It gives it that bright red color and a distinct flavor that you can only get from the paste. There are options for making it yourself but I haven’t tried any and the list of ingredients just adds to the difficulty of sourcing it. There’s not really an option for substituting anything in the recipe, it’s all there for a specific reason and flavor profile so do your best to find it all.
3 (5-6″) dried guajillo chiles* stems and seeds removed
2-3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (I use 2 pounds but there’s enough marinade for up to 3 if you need to make even more meat.)
1 cup pineapple juice
juice of 2 limes
3 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
1/2 of a white onion, roughly chopped (the rest will be for topping the tacos)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried (Mexican) oregano*
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1.75 ounces achiote paste (half of the 3.5 package)
Fresh pineapple slices from about half a pineapple
the rest of that white onion, minced
a bunch of cilantro
warm corn tortillas (wrap em up in foil and warm them on the grill)
*these are pretty readily available in a lot of supermarkets, look for them in the Hispanic or International aisle, or randomly in the produce department.
In a dry medium saucepan toast the peppers on both sides just until they’re fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Once they’re toasted cover them with water, bring to a boil, make sure they’re submerged, then cover and let steep and soften for 30 minutes. Maybe check a couple times to make sure they’re submerged for this whole time.
Use this 30 minute window to cut the chicken into 1 1/2″ chunks and add them to a gallon sized ziptop bag.
After the 30 minutes remove the peppers and add them to a blender with everything except the chicken and garnishes and blend for 30 seconds until nice and smooth. Save 1/2 cup for the pineapple and pour the rest over the chicken in the bag and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, no more than 24 hours.
After the chicken’s marinated skewer them evenly onto the skewers (I prefer a metal skewer that’s flat so the meat can turn easier with the skewer), being careful not to overcrowd.
Now we grill! Kingsford has some super helpful tips when it comes to grilling and prepping the grill (perfect for my inabilities) so be sure to check them out. Prep your grill and get it heated to a pretty high temp.
Grill up the skewers about 5 minutes or so on either side until the meat is nice and charred and it’s cooked through. If your grill is big enough you can grill off the pineapple by brushing on the reserved marinade and grilling both sides until softened and grill marks happen. If you’re using a smaller grill just cook up the pineapple afterwards while your meat is resting. I was originally going to skewer the pineapple on with the chicken but I was worried the pineapple might somehow inhibit the chicken from cooking evenly plus I know people have fears of eating pineapple with their savories.
You can either serve up the skewers as skewers like the first picture or go whole hog and serve the meat in a warm corn tortilla.
This post was sponsored by Kingsford Charcoal, but everything is my own opinion from my own beautiful mouth.