Adam Ried from the Boston Globe Magazine shares this amazing recipe for using za’atar, the delicious middle eastern spice we always keep on the shelf from Canaan Fair Trade. “Try the delicious Middle Eastern herb blend with chicken — if you can avoid eating it all on pita,” he writes. Challenge accepted.
Serves 6 (2 thighs each)
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons sugar
12 bone-in chicken thighs (about 3½ pounds), trimmed, rinsed, and dried
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon finely grated zest and 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon, plus lemon wedges for serving
1½ tablespoons pressed or grated garlic (about 6 medium cloves)
About ¾ cup za’atar
Neutral oil, for the grill
¼ cup thinly sliced scallion whites and greens (about 2 medium scallions)
In a large bowl, mix 1/3 cup salt, the sugar, and 6 cups water, stirring to fully dissolve the salt and sugar. With a sharp paring knife, cut a 1-inch slash in the skin on each chicken thigh, submerge them skin side down in the liquid, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse under running water, and dry well with paper towels.
Meanwhile, in a large, nonreactive bowl, whisk the honey, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and 1 teaspoon pepper to mix. Place the za’atar in a pie plate or other shallow dish. Set both aside.
Prepare a medium-hot two-level fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill on high. (If using a gas grill, adjust one burner to medium-high and the other(s) to low, and grill with the lid closed.) Clean and oil the grill grate. Grill the chicken pieces bone side down on the hot side of the grill, undisturbed (unless the fire flares, in which case squirt it with water or temporarily move the chicken to cool side of the grill) until the meat is grill-marked, about 2½ to 4 minutes. Turn the pieces over and continue grilling, again undisturbed, until the skin is browned and crisp, about 2½ minutes longer. Move the chicken to the cooler side of the grill and continue grilling, turning occasionally, until chicken is cooked through (the meat registers 170 to 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer), 20 to 30 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a platter.
Working with one piece of chicken at a time, use tongs to dip both sides in the honey mixture to coat lightly, then dredge in the za’atar, pressing the chicken lightly to help the za’atar adhere. Oil the grill grate again, return the chicken to the hotter side of the grill, and grill, undisturbed, until the za’atar is very lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes, turning once halfway through. Move the chicken to a platter and rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and serve warm, with lemon wedges.
(Photograph: Boston Globe Magazine. Photographer Anthony Tieuli. Food styling by Sheila Jarnes.)
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