osing control of your week is often unstoppable and unpredictable, even on your best weeks. The past few have kept Megs and I crazy busy with family emergencies and celebrations, band gigs, sports games, work schedules, yada yada yada… Through all the bustle it’s hard to catch a breadth, but come up for air one must!
Monday I awoke to sleet, yesterday to blue skies and warm rays…even mother nature is trying to throw me off. Fat chance hippy! With the clouds parted for a geologic instant I tossed all other plans aside and spent an hour or more in the kitchen prepping a spiced up dinner for the queen and I. Italian is comforting, asian exciting, but Greek or Mediterranean can awaken even the most weathered tastebuds.
I keep a fresh supply of spices in the pantry, especially spice mixtures like Zaatar that can transform a simple chicken thigh into culinary gold. Zaatar (left), a mixture of sumac, sesame, thyme, mint, oregano and other herbs is a Lebanese staple. Sumac (right) on it’s own is delicious sprinkled over potatoes, mixed into breadings, or whipped into hummus. If you can’t find Zaatar try mixing up the mentioned herbs yourself and grinding very fine for a similar flavor. Let’s shhhpice it up:
Zaatar and Labneh Chicken Thighs
1lb Chicken Thighs (boneless are easiest on the grill)
1 Cup Labneh or Greek Yogurt
2 Tbs Zaatar
Handful of Mint (chopped roughly)
In a bowl combine the yogurt, zaatar, and half of the chopped mint. Mix to combine, add the chicken, toss to cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour or more (the longer the better).
Turn your grill to full whack and add the chicken once hot. Grill 5 minutes on the first side without touching. After 5 minutes the chicken should lift easily from the grates, flip and grill an additional 3-5 minutes or until juices run clear.
That’s it! Stack the grilled thighs sky high and drizzle with a little Tzatziki, a lug of olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining mint. The flavors are fragrant and exotic, a combination of fresh herbs, tangy yogurt and warm spices.
The chicken is killer on it’s own, but even better complimented with a frigid cucumber salad, grilled giant shitake mushrooms, and a toasted piece of flat bread or two. The cucumber salad was so on point I’d be doing the chicken a disservice by holding back the recipe:
1 Long Cucumber (british are good since they lack many seeds)
1 Ripe, Sweet Tomato
1/2 Handful of Mint, chopped roughly
Olive Oil, White Wine Vinegar, Chile Flakes, S&P
Cut your cucumber in half lengthwise and then on a bias to make long, spear-like pieces. I find they stay rigid much longer than half-moons. Cut your tomato into thin slices and combine in a bowl with the cucumber, splash of vinegar, drizzle of olive oil, large pinch of salt, pinch of pepper flakes and 2-3 grinds black pepper. Toss and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
The combination of hot, spiced chicken matched with the acidic punch and coolness of the cuke salad is stellar. Match the whole meal with a quick Sangria of Trebbiano, Sliced Plums and Oranges and you’re in all kinds of business.
…and that’s Tuesday…