ADVERTISEMENT

Skewered foods are fun to grill and perfect for portion control, but you have to be careful about what goes on the skewers. You often see meat sharing space with vegetables, which isn't the best approach, unless your execution is perfect. Too often, the vegetables end up charred on the edges and raw within.

My solution is to skip the veggies and use pineapple, whose flavor is enhanced by just a short time on the grill. I sometimes pair it with pork, but here I've chosen chicken. I've added an herb-and-chili-pepper wet rub that's great with both the poultry and the fruit.

You'll need 8 medium-length wooden skewers. For this recipe, rather than soaking them in water to prevent burning, I use aluminum foil to shield the exposed ends from the grill's heat.

> Cilantro-Lime Chicken and Pineapple Skewers

2 serrano chili peppers, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes (at least 2 teaspoons zest and 1 tablespoon juice)

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 pineapple, cut into 1-inch cubes (12 ounces peeled, trimmed and cubed)

Combine the serrano peppers, cilantro, lime zest and juice, brown sugar, oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat thoroughly; cover with plastic wrap. (Alternatively, combine the marinade ingredients in a large resealable plastic food storage bag and press out as much air as possible. Seal and massage to coat thoroughly.) Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

When ready to cook the chicken, prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds. Lightly coat a grill rack with oil and place it on the grill. Have 8 wooden skewers at hand.

While the grill is heating, prepare the skewers. Thread the cubes of chicken and pineapple onto them, alternating the fruit and meat. Each skewer should have about 8 pieces.

Arrange aluminum foil on the grate to shield the ends of the skewers from the heat of the grill. Carefully place the skewers on the grate. Cover and grill for about 5 minutes, then turn the skewers. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Check for doneness; an instant-read thermometer should register 170 degrees when inserted in the thickest piece of chicken. If the chicken is not done, cover and grill until fully cooked. The size and shape of the cubes will determine the cooking time.

Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

Per 2-skewer serving: 160 calories, 27g protein, 10g carbohydrates, 2g fat, no saturated fat, 65mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium, no dietary fiber, 7g sugar