Spiced, Grilled and Swaddled Chicken Thighs with the Works
A great recipe from US food writer Molly Baz's brilliant new cookbook Cook This Book which is full of clever hacks to help you become, as they describe it on the cover, 'a smarter, faster, more creative cook'
Molly writes: I’ve always dreamt of somehow jerry-rigging a shawarma spit setup in my home kitchen. I mean, how amazing would it be to bring the intoxicating scent of spit-roasted meat (if you're a New Yorker, you know – nothing is more delicious than the smells that waft off a shawarma cart) into your home kitchen and to shave off in real time for your guests when you entertain?! Sadly, in a Brooklyn apartment kitchen, that is far from realistic. So when the craving hits, I take things outdoors and make a version of these spiced and griddled chicken thighs, swaddle them in warmed pittas with piles of herbs and pickled onions, and forget, for a second, just how far I am from realising that dream.
2 medium red onions
5 garlic cloves
1 bunch mint or corianader
420g plain whole-milk yogurt
1kg boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6 small thighs)
250ml distilled white vinegar
Coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for the grill
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Pickle the red onions:
- Slice 2 red onions crosswise into 2mm-thick rings.
- In a small saucepan, heat 250ml white vinegar, 375ml water, 100g sugar and 1 tablespoon salt over medium heat, stirrinq often to dissolve. Once the vinegar mixture comes to a simmer, remove from the heat and immediately add the onions. Let cool to room temperature. The onions can be made up to several days in advance; they only get better with time.
2. Make the garlic yogurt:
- Finely grate 1 garlic clove into a small bowl and stir in 245g plain yogurt. Season with salt and set aside for serving.
3. Marinate the chicken:
- Finely grate 4 garlic cloves into a large bowl.
- Stir in 175g plain yogurt, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2½ teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon cumin, ¾ teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper and whisk well to combine.
- Add 1kg boneless, skinless chicken thighs to the marinade and turn to coat. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes white you prepare a barbecue for medium heat (or heat a cast-iron griddle pan over medium heat. If you're going to marinate them longer (which you totes should; they only improve with time), cover and keep chilled in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours and pull them out 30 minutes before cooking.
4. Back to grilling that chicken:
- Once the barbecue is preheated to medium (you should be able to hold your hand over the grate for about 5 seconds before it gets too hot) lightly oil the grill.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade with tongs, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, and transfer it to the grill. Cook, undisturbed, until it's nicely charred underneath and naturally releases from the grates, 5 to 6 minutes. Pay attention to the hot spots of your barbecue or griddle pan, and move the thighs around accordingly to ensure even browning. Flip the thighs and cook until just cooked through, 4 to 7 minutes longer, (An instant-read thermometer should register 75°C in the thickest part of the thigh.) This will vary depending on how large your chicken thighs are, so keep an eye on temperature more than timing in this case! Let the chicken thighs rest on a plate while you grill the pittas.
5. Warm the pittas and serve:
- Warm the pittas on the grill while the chicken rests, about 1 minute per side.
- Cut a lemon into 4 wedges and pick the leaves from 1 bunch of mint.
- Slice the chicken against the grain into 1cm-thick strips and serve on a big platter alongside the pittas, pickled onions, garlic yogurt, lemon wedges and mint for a build-your-own kinda sitch.
What to drink: You can see there are craft beers - possibly alcohol-free - in the pic and that seems a good way to go. Otherwise I'd go for a juicy gamay or other light red. Or a rosé.
Extracted from Cook this Book by Molly Baz published by Robinson at £26. Photograph ©Taylor Peden and Jan Munk.
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