This post is sponsored by Sutter Home, who made James and I very happy by supplying the wine to go with these Fiery Italian Chicken Skewers as part of the #SweetOnSpice campaign.
Whew. My nerves are all jumbled right now because, from out of nowhere, an apocalyptic amount of bouncing hailstones just decimated the top of my glass patio table. LOUDLY.
That was accompanied, of course, by (also very loud) thunder and whipping wind, and by lawn furniture that started flying wildly about without warning. So that is the rather unexpected weather of today.
But yesterday– yesterday it was absolutely gorgeous outside. It was one of those days that makes you want to drop everything to take a walk on the beach with your crush, wander back home, fire up the grill, and then, just as it’s getting dark out, make your way back inside to eat together with all of the windows wide open and a couple of glasses of chilled wine.
So that’s exactly what I did. Okay, first I scheduled some media, returned several emails, and made a few phone calls, but then that’s what I did.
It was fantastic.
And let me tell you, while every second was glorious and much-needed, these Fiery Italian Chicken Skewers were honestly the part of the day that I loved the most.
The homemade “fiery” pesto marinade, loaded with roasted red and hot cherry peppers, is spicy and rich and unbelievably good, especially when grilled with tender chunks of chicken thighs (which never dry out but get that gorgeous char on the edges that makes all grilled food that much better).
It was so good that I instantly knew these skewers wouldn’t last more than ten minutes in my house once the photos were finished.
They lasted for six, by the way. The guys basically did to these chicken skewers what the hailstones did to my glass tabletop today. They left no survivors in the wake of their storm.
At least we decided to relax while enjoying my second favorite part of the day– the wine.
But wait, before I get to the wine, let me touch on the whole Italian pesto part again for a second.
As I mentioned before, I live at the beach. At the Jersey Shore, actually.
You guys, nearly everyone at the Jersey Shore is Italian-American. And even if you’re not Italian-American by blood, it doesn’t matter– you’re still Italian-American in spirit. You’ve been taken in by the culture like… well, like a loving Italian mother who insists on feeding you and caring for you her own. There’s no escaping it here, and after you’ve tasted the food, there’s no reason to try.
I happen to fit into the latter category. My mom is German and Irish, my dad is European Jewish. AKA Not-Italian. It’s important to say that when you’re making recipes with “Italian” in the title because Italian-Americans are sticklers for authenticity. You can bet that their Nonna has been making the recipe for generations and that they do it The Right Way, and you are messing something up by doing it differently. If this sounds like a familiar spiel, it’s because I talked about this in my Easter Pie post when I joked, again, about how I am not at all Italian (at least pending the results of my DNA test).
Except that according to the recently received results of my DNA test, my second largest DNA group is Italian. Surprise?
I figured the best way to celebrate my newfound heritage would be with some Italian food– like these Italian chicken skewers marinated in fiery pesto. I’d say it’s very Jersey Shore of me.
By the way, I call the pesto “fiery” because the hot cherry peppers add some noticeable heat, but we’re not talking about a final dish that’s going to scorch your taste-buds. We’re talking pesto with a great kick and depth of flavor. If, however, you do like your meals punch-you-in-the-face hot, as I like to call it (and as I like to eat mine), add in more hot cherry peppers until your nose tingles at the thought of it. Keep in mind that the skewers will not wind up quite as spicy as the pesto marinade and go to town. You can even add in some crushed red pepper flakes if you’re feeling daring.
Go ahead, live on the edge.
Okay, NOW let’s talk about the wine.
When you’ve got a spicy, Italian-flavored dish, you have to balance it out with a sweet Italian wine like Sutter Home Moscato. As far as sweet, summery wines go, that one takes the cake for me. The bright, peachy flavors really shine when paired with rich grilled foods (hello, pesto-marinated chicken thigh skewers) and it’s always well-received by a crowd.
It’s the kind of wine that I’d serve at a Memorial Day Weekend barbecue or for a date night dinner on a beautiful night like last night.
Heck, I’d even drink it on a crazy-weathered day like today. In fact, I am right now. Gotta calm those nerves, you know.
And while James and I didn’t really get to have an actual date night last night (because after photos are taken, we share with Mike like the mostly-decent housemates that we are), we really did have a great time together between the walk and the wine and the food. Take the time out this upcoming weekend to truly enjoy yourself.
Preferably with plenty of Fiery Italian Chicken Skewers.
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 1/2 cups sliced roasted red peppers
- 5 hot cherry peppers, stemmed and seeded, or to taste
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, plus more to serve
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
- 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
- 1 large red pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into chunks
- Lemon wedges, to serve
- Chilled Sutter Home Moscato, to serve
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the toasted pine nuts, roasted red peppers, hot cherry peppers, basil, garlic, Parmesan, and paprika. Process until well-combined. Stream in olive oil until the pesto reaches a thin enough consistency to coat the chicken as a marinade. Season with salt and pepper and adjust ingredients as needed– I like to include extra hot cherry peppers so that that fiery flavor shines through in the skewers, but you should add to your own tastes. Transfer half of the pesto to a large freezer bag and reserve the rest for later.
- Add the chopped chicken thighs to the freezer bag of pesto. Seal, then use your hand to massage the pesto all over the chicken thighs to ensure that they are evenly coated. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Make sure it is clean and well oiled so the chicken doesn’t stick.
- Thread the chicken cubes, red onion, and red pepper onto metal skewers. If using wooden skewers, be sure to pre-soak them in water first for at least an hour to prevent them from catching fire. Brush the chicken with the reserved pesto.
- Grill until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 4-5 minutes per side. Serve warm with basil, lemon wedges, and chilled Sutter Home Moscato.
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