Despite the fact we in Portland are more or less forced to make the absolute most of our three months of sunshine, I don’t do a whole lot of grilling. Mostly because there’s not much to grill other than large amounts of (expensive and not-too-good-for-you) meat, and also because if I am going to grill a large amount of expensive and not-too-good-for-you meat, I’d rather do it on the smoker and really make the whole enterprise worthwhile. Dragging out the grill for just a quick 20-30 minutes just seems so inefficient. But if I’m going to do it, this is one of the things I like to make. It’s on skewers so you can choose as many or as few bite-sized chicken pieces as you want, and the yakitori glaze really complements the grill-smoke flavor. Serve it as a full meal with rice and salad, or bring some skewers to a group barbecue.
As below it makes about 4 servings, especially with the salad and rice. Recipe adapted from Food & Wine magazine.
-Gas or charcoal grill
-Metal or wood skewers
• 2 lbs. chicken thighs (ALWAYS use thighs; breasts invariably dry out and become tough and stringy), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces: $4.50
• 1 large bunch green onions, sliced crosswise into 1 inch pieces (garden): $0
• 3/4 cup dashi (you can cheat a little by just using kombu, and you can also freeze it and use it for this soup or this stew in the fall): 40 cents
• 1 1/2 cups sake or dry sherry: $1.50
• 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce: 10 cents
• 2 T brown sugar: 10 cents
• 1/3 cup mirin: 40 cents
• Oil, for brushing: 12 cents
• Rice and salad, optional (I put minced ginger in the rice and made a simple sesame-soy vinaigrette for the salad*): 15 cents
TOTAL: $7.27/4 = $1.82/serving
*2 T rice vinegar, 1/2 T sesame oil, 1/2 T soy sauce, shake well.
Combine the dashi, sherry, soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook at a strong simmer/low boil until reduced and thickened, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If you’re using wood skewers, soak about 10 of them in water for 20 minutes. (I usually use metal, but I happened to find some wood ones lying around that I think someone left here, which is why I’m not counting them in the final cost.)
Carefully thread the chicken onto the skewers, alternating with two pieces of green onion. (I put a bunch of extra on the end, because I love grilled green onion.) Brush with oil.
Pour the glaze into a small bowl. (I later skimmed off the foam.)
Set up your grill however you normally do. (I have a charcoal grill for which I use a chimney starter.) Make sure the heat is moderate. (Make sure you can hold your hand over the grill for 3 seconds before having to pull it away.)
Grill the chicken on both sides, turning several times and brushing with glaze, for about 10 minutes or until cooked through but still juicy.
Brush with glaze once more right before removing from the grill. Serve.