Pepper Jelly Chicken Kebabs (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Pepper Jelly Chicken Kebabs (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Kick off summer with some sweet grilled heat

Add some sweet heat to your Memorial Day barbecue and this summer’s Shabbat dinners with these spicy (but not too hot) chicken kebabs and grilled flanken recipes.

If desired, dial back the heat by using more marmalade and less pepper jelly in the kebabs, and stirring in an extra tablespoon or two of tomato paste into the sauce for the flanken.

For the flanken, a bone-in cut used in both Jewish and Korean cuisine, choose (or ask your butcher for) cross-cut beef short ribs that are about ½-inch thick or less.


Pepper Jelly Chicken Kebabs

Serves 4 to 5

  • 2 tsp. plus 1 Tbs. orange marmalade
  • 2 tsp. plus 1 Tbs. jalapeño or other spicy pepper jelly
  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil, plus additional for the grill
  • 1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper, divided
  • Hot sauce, as desired, optional
  • ½ tsp. sugar, divided, optional
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup green onions pieces (cut in 1-inch sections)

Have marmalade and pepper jelly at room temperature. In large bowl, stir together 2 tsp. each marmalade and jelly with garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, oil and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Stir well and taste. To make it hotter, stir in a few drops of hot sauce. To make it sweeter, stir in ¼ tsp. sugar.

Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces. Add to the marinade, turning until coated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Marinate for 1 hour or up to 1 day in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.

In a small bowl, stir together 1 Tbs. each marmalade and pepper jelly with water, salt and remaining black pepper. Taste and stir in hot sauce or ¼ tsp. sugar as desired. Set aside.

Thread chicken on 8 to 10 long skewers, alternating with tomatoes and green onions.  (If using bamboo skewers, soak in warm water for 30 minutes before using.)  Lightly brush grill grate, indoor grill, or stove-top grill pan with oil. Heat to medium-high heat. Grill the skewers, adjusting the heat as needed. Turn kebabs occasionally. When almost done, baste with glaze on all sides. Cook 10 to 15 minutes until firm (but not hard) to the touch and without any pink when a piece is cut. Timing varies if using a broiler or a closed, panini-style grill.


Grilled Flanken in Chipotle-Honey BBQ Sauce

Serves 4 to 5

  • 3 peppers from a can of chipotle peppers
  • 2 Tbs. adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil, plus additional for the grill
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 lbs. beef flanken (cross-cut short ribs)
Grilled Flanken in Chipotle-Honey BBQ Sauce (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Grilled Flanken in Chipotle-Honey BBQ Sauce (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Place peppers, adobo sauce, honey, oil, tomato paste, oregano, cumin and salt in blender and purée on high, stopping blender and scraping down sides as needed.

Reserve 3 Tbs. of the sauce, then brush both sides of flanken with the remaining sauce. Place in layers in an 8-by-12-inch baking pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap. Marinate for 2 hours or up to 1 day in the refrigerator.

Lightly brush grill grate, indoor grill or stove-top grill pan with oil. Heat to medium-high. Grill flanken, adjusting heat as needed, until firm and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes, turning once or twice and brushing with reserved sauce. Timing will vary, especially if cooked under a broiler or in a closed, panini-style grill. Put meat on serving plate, cover with foil. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: Canned chipotle peppers are packed in adobo sauce, available in 4-ounce cans in supermarkets, and the unused portion can be refrigerated in an airtight container (glass is better, as plastic can stain) for up to 3 months. Use anywhere a splash of smoky heat would be appreciated.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at clickblogappetit.com. Contact Faith at [email protected].