Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chicken Meatball Kabobs in Ginger Beer Teriyaki Sauce on Rice

Any dish with a name that long better be good. Fortunately, this one, for Chicken Meatball Kabobs in Ginger Beer Teriyaki Sauce on Rice, is. Although the recipe has a lot of steps, it’s not at all complicated and is easily within the reach of anyone of any cooking level. (Each step does build on the next, so taking things in the order shown is very important.)

A couple of notes about this recipe. First, you’ll see we’ll be making our own teriyaki sauce instead of using store-bought. Home-made tastes better and fresher than store-bought (as it almost always does!) and it’s easy to do.  (Consider that even Sandra Lee, the empress of store-bought ingredients, makes her own sauce for chicken teriyaki.)

Second, we’ll be using fresh pineapple instead of canned. (Although it’s possible to use canned, fresh pineapple is just better.) It’s easy, and once you do it you may never go back to canned again. If anyone is unsure how to do it, just let me know and I’ll send you the cookbook-style version of this recipe, which includes step-by-step instructions for cutting a fresh pineapple.

Third, we’re using ginger beer (or “ginger brew”), one of my favorite ingredients. A number of brands are available, but be aware there’s a wide range in the quality. The better ones (I like to used Reed’s, the kind Trader Joe’s carries) are a blend of all kinds of wonderful things, such as ginger root, spices, honey, pineapple, lemon, and lime. Others are basically glorified ginger-ale and should be avoided for this recipe. (Goya, for example, lists the following ingredients for their ginger beer: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, ginger flavorings, oil of ginger, caramel color, capsicum, and citric acid.) A little caveat emptor goes a long way.

This recipe makes 8 kabobs (4 servings).

First, prepare your general ingredients:

Cut a fresh pineapple into 1” long chunks. (Canned pineapple chunks can be used instead, but fresh is better.) In a food processor, puree enough of the pineapple chunks (about ¼ of the pineapple) to make about ½ cup of liquid. Set the rest of the chunks aside.

Cut a green pepper into rectangles, about 1” to 1-1/2” on a side.

Clean a 10 ounce package of baby portabella mushrooms and remove the stems. Dice the stems and set them aside for later use in the rice.

Cut the top and bottom off a sweet onion (Vidalia or similar). Cut the onion into 8 wedges. Remove the inner (pointed) portion of each wedge at the mid-point, and dice them for later use in the rice. Separate the remaining outer (larger) portion of each wedge into two pieces.  Place these on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the cold oven.

Begin preheating the oven to 350, letting the onions pre-cook as it heats up. Check on the onions and remove them in a few minutes when they are just a little soft, but not completely cooked.

Next, we’ll make our teriyaki sauce:

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of low sodium soy sauce, 6 cloves of garlic (smashed but not chopped), 1/2 cup of honey, ¼ cup of the pureed pineapple juice (or, if using canned pineapple, ¼ cup of the reserved juice from the can), and 1 cup of good quality ginger beer. Bring the mixture to a boil, then immediately lower to a simmer for two minutes. When it’s done, use a slotted spoon to remove and discard the crushed garlic, then add ½ cup of chopped scallions (both the green and white parts). Set the sauce aside.

In the third step, we make our chicken meatballs:

In a bowl, combine 1 pound of  ground chicken (ground turkey works well too), 1 cup of soft bread crumbs (just put some bread into the food processor and process till, well, till it looks like bread crumbs), 1 egg substitute egg (ok, a real egg will do too), ¾ teaspoon of dried thyme, ¼ teaspoon of dried sage, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, and 1/3 cup of your teriyaki sauce. Mix the ingredients by hand, being careful not to overwork the mixture, and form in to 1-1/2” meatballs. (The meatball mix in this recipe is somewhat loose, so the meatballs may come out oval or patty-shaped instead of perfectly round. This is ok.)

In a pan, sauté the chicken meatballs in a little canola oil until they’re browned on the outside. (They’ll cook more in the over later so they don’t have to be cooked through at this step.)

When the meatballs have browned, add the teriyaki sauce to the pan, bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the meatballs for 5 minutes. When you’re done, remove the meatballs and set aside. Bring the remaining sauce to a boil and reduce by about half.

After the sauce has reduced, put the chicken back in the pan and toss to coat.

For the fourth step, we begin preparing the rice:

Prepare four portions of brown rice as per the directions on the package, but using the remaining pineapple juice and additional chicken broth in place of the water.

The fifth step is to make those delicious looking kabobs:

Put the meatballs on the skewers, along with the pineapple, grape or cherry tomatoes, green pepper pieces, and the partially cooked onion pieces. Brush each kabob with the reduced teriyaki sauce, sprinkle them with sesame seeds, and bake till chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 25 – 30 minutes.

For the sixth step, we finish the rice:

While the rice and chicken skewers are cooking, sauté the diced mushroom stems and onions. When the diced onions and mushrooms are cooked, and the rice has finished cooking, add the sautéed onions and mushrooms to the rice and mix well.

Last step (and, in my opinion, the best): put the skewers on the rice and serve!
For a cookbook style, notebook ready copy of this recipe (which includes step-by-step instructions for cutting the pineapple), just let me know in a comment or an e-mail and you’ll have it in no time!

See you next week! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. Thanks, Martha! It took a couple of tries to get the right combination of things for the teriyaki sauce, but in the end I was happy with how everything came out. (I'm just hoping the ginger beer doesn't come off as too It is just such a great ingredient with a really interesting blend of flavors.