We at last have summer weather here in France and the barbecue season has arrived! We seemed to suddenly lurch from a cool and wet spring to high summer with temperatures regularly above 30°C. Luckily we have a shady place to cook on the barbecue and last year we lashed out on a new gas one. We had resisted, thinking we were not really barbecuing unless we used charcoal, but it has taken much of the guesswork out of the cooking. We no longer get food that's crozzled on the outside and raw in the middle and we can predict more accurately when it will be ready - no more waiting for the charcoal to become hot enough then having to get on with it! In other words, cooking on a gas barbecue has taken all the stress out of it and is definitely just as tasty (if slightly less exciting).
I recently bought some excellent lemon and thyme marinated chicken brochettes in Lidl when we were having visitors. They were quite pricey so we looked for a recipe we could adapt to make them from scratch. We found one in a book called "Charred and Scruffed" by Adam Perry Lang.
The book itself was a gift from my brother some years ago, possibly to encourage us to be more creative than just burgers than sausages with our barbecue repertoire! It's not a book I would have bought for myself as it's American so therefore in cup measurements, which I'm never very confident with, but it's full of lovely recipes.
4 smallish skinned chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
1 red pepper, seeds removed and cut into large chunks
For the marinade
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (or roughly equal to the amount of lemon juice)
2 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon*
1 tsp granulated sugar
3-4 small sprigs thyme**
salt and pepper to taste
Grate the garlic and shallot using a microplane zester or the finest grater that you have.
Strip the leaves from the thyme sprigs, chop fine, and put them with all the other marinade ingredients into a small jam jar. Shake the jar well to combine everything together.
* For extra tanginess you could add in the lemon zest and the fleshy bits from the juicer/squeezer.
** If you don't have fresh thyme, use a teaspoon of dried thyme and marinate for more than the minimum time.
Push the chunks of chicken and pepper onto skewers and lay in a shallow dish. Pour the marinade over evenly, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for at least thirty minutes, or 2-3 hours.
Alternatively, put the chunks of chicken and pepper into a plastic bag, add the marinade and toss about to make sure everything is coated then leave in the fridge until ready to cook and assemble the skewers.
Grill on the barbecue for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally. Or bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a sharp knife into a piece of chicken to see if it’s still pink.
Serves 2-3, depending on how many sausages there are per person. (We have found Lidl Toulouse sausages a good bbq alternative to the magnificent Cumberland!)