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Za’atar Chicken with Lemon Yogurt

Serves: Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
  • 8 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane or minced
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon za’atar
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1¾ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ⅔ cup plain Greek yogurt, preferably whole-milk
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Ground sumac, for garnish (optional)
  • Pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)
  • Mint leaves, for garnish (optional)


Procedures:

Intensely garlicky and lemony, this Middle Eastern-inspired dish gets an earthy, herbal character from za’atar, a mix of dried herbs, sumac, and sesame seeds that’s rubbed all over the boneless thighs along with garlic, olive oil, and plenty of fresh parsley. Don’t be surprised at the number of garlic cloves called for here. Grated into a puree, they melt into the chicken flesh, thoroughly perfuming it without making it overwhelmingly pungent. These thighs work best cooked on the grill for maximum blackening at the edges. But they are still excellent under the broiler—just as long as you can get a deep, smoky char on the meat.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken with all but 1 teaspoon of the grated garlic (save that for the yogurt sauce), half of the lemon zest and juice, and the za’atar, parsley, olive oil, and 1½ teaspoons of the salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

Heat a grill, or arrange a rack in the position closest to the heat source and heat the broiler.

Remove the chicken from the bowl, reserving the marinade. If you are grilling, grill the chicken over high heat until it is charred in spots, 4 to 7 minutes. Baste the chicken with some of the reserved marinade, flip the pieces over, and continue cooking until they are just cooked through, another 4 to 7 minutes. If you are broiling, line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread the chicken out on it in a single layer. Broil the chicken, basting it with some of the reserved marinade and turning the pieces over halfway through, until well colored and charred in spots, 4 to 7 minutes per side. Be careful that the chicken doesn’t burn.

While the chicken cooks, place the yogurt in a small bowl. Stir in the reserved grated garlic, the remaining lemon zest, the pepper, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. To serve, drizzle olive oil and the remaining lemon juice, to taste, over the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley and ground sumac if using. Pass the yogurt for dipping.

Reprinted from Dinner: Changing the Game copyright © 2017 by Melissa Clark. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Eric Wolfinger. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

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