Middle Eastern Herb and Garlic Chicken
Before work, before the kids wake, often before the sun rises, early mornings are, for me, all about a hot cup of coffee and The New York Times where I invariably find my way to the Books, Travel and Food sections. Recently I read about this chicken dish and I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it since. So, I finally gathered all of the ingredients and tried it. Despite neglecting and slightly charring a few of the pieces as I savored samples indoors, the chicken turned out delicious! Even my daughter who is quite picky asked for seconds (finally we're eating adult food!). The recipe is easy to prepare and doing so is a delight for the senses. I would like to take extra credit for the delicious flavors as the herbs were all organically grown in my garden. Let us know what you think.
A few notes on my adaptations of this recipe:
- I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. I prefer the flavor and, frankly, they’re cheaper than the boneless version.
- I added more olive oil than the Times’ recipe called for and I went heavier on the fresh herbs and salt, too…I couldn’t find sumac, and we didn’t miss it, but I’m determined to find some for next time.
- Don’t skip the yogurt sauce unless you must. It compliments the chicken perfectly. (Although I will say that I prefer whole milk, non-“Greek” yogurt for this recipe. I find the Greek style to be too dense.
- Finally, who am I to suggest this marinade would work just as well on lamb, tofu or seitan? Don’t say you read it here.
And then there are the Earlywood tools one needs for this recipe: I’ve taken to using my l flat sauté whenever I barbecue. It allows me to easily move the food around on the grill and flip it off the moment it’s ready. For stirring (and almost everything else), the tera scraper is my new best friend. Oh, but then there are my Earlywood cutting boards, which receive nearly as many compliments from friends and family as they do use and abuse in our kitchen.
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds)
- 6 garlic cloves, grated or minced
- Juice and zest of 2 lemons
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, more for serving
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or marjoram
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, more for garnish (optional)
- ¾ teaspoon sumac, more for garnish (optional)
- ⅔ cup plain Greek yogurt, preferably whole milk yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Combine the chicken with all but 1 teaspoon of the garlic (save that for the yogurt sauce), the zest and juice of 1 lemon, oil, parsley, mint, thyme, oregano, salt, and the sesame seeds and sumac, if using. Cover and marinate for 15 to 30 minutes at room temperature; you can refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. (The optimum marinating time, says Melissa Clark, the recipe’s author, is 8 hours.)
- Heat grill or broiler. If grilling, cook chicken over high heat until charred in spots, 4 to 7 minutes. Flip pieces and continue grilling until just cooked through, another 4 to 7 minutes. (Best to avoid massive grill fire.) If broiling, arrange a rack 3 to 4 inches from flame. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spread chicken out in a single layer. Broil chicken, turning halfway through cooking, until browned and charred in spots, 4 to 7 minutes per side. Be careful that it doesn’t burn.
- While the chicken cooks, prepare the sauce. Place yogurt in a small bowl. Stir in the reserved garlic and lemon zest and season to taste with salt. Serve the chicken drizzled with olive oil, remaining lemon juice to taste, black pepper, parsley, sesame seeds and sumac, if using, with the yogurt alongside for dipping.
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