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Originally published Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM

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Recipe: Grilled Chicken Spiedini

This grilled chicken recipe depends on zesty lemon and spicy pepperoncini for flavor.

McClatchy Newspapers

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Whether you order chicken spiedini at an Italian mom-and-pop ristorante or Olive Garden, chances are good the benefits of grilling lean chunks of meat over an open flame will be overshadowed by the dish's overall fat content.

The culprit?

Typically the skewered, breaded kebabs are served drowning in a puddle of olive oil. For instance, one recipe on cdkitchen.com calls for 1/2 cup olive oil. Another on recipezaar.com lists 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter.

This Grilled Chicken Spiedini adds more zesty lemon and spicy pepperoncini, a mixture that balances flavor with a more modest tablespoon of olive oil.

Shopping tip: Look for pickled pepperoncini in the condiment aisle with salad dressings, pickles and peppers. You can also find them on some salad bars.

Cooking tip: At 400 degrees, you should be able to hold your hand 4 inches above the grate and count to four, using the "1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi ..." method, before the heat forces you to pull it away.

Serving tip: Instead of serving the grilled chicken over a bed of fettuccine alfredo — referred to by the Center for Science in the Public Interest as a "heart attack on a plate" — try it on a bed of noodles lightly dressed in the pepperoncini sauce plus a dab of heart-healthy olive oil, if desired.

Grilled Chicken Spiedini

Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons grated lemon zest, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped pickled pepperoncini

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

2/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

1. Combine lemon juice, 1 tablespoon lemon zest and olive oil; blend well. Remove 2 tablespoons lemon juice mixture, stir in pepperoncini and set aside. Place remaining mixture into zip-top bag and add chicken breasts. Seal bag, refrigerate and allow to marinate 30 minutes.

2. Place bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, remaining 2 tablespoons lemon zest and garlic cloves in shallow dish such as a pie plate; blend well. Remove each chicken breast from marinade, (discard the marinade) and place chicken in crumb mixture, coating well. Carefully cut each breast into 1-inch thick slices and thread onto metal skewers.

3. Preheat grill to medium-high (400 degrees, see cooking tip), allowing coals to burn down to white ash. Grill chicken 9 to 12 minutes, or until fully cooked and meat thermometer registers 170 degrees, turning midway through cooking.

4. Place on serving platter and drizzle with reserved pepperoncini mixture.

Per serving: 275 calories (24 percent from fat), 7 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 71 milligrams cholesterol, 19 grams carbohydrates, 32 grams protein, 489 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

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