Za'atar is a traditional Middle Eastern spice blend that has been used for centuries in various regional cuisines. Its name comes from the Arabic word for "thyme," and while the specific ingredients can vary depending on the region or family recipe, the blend typically includes sumac, sesame seeds, dried oregano, dried thyme, and salt. Not only is this mix delicious, but it's also believed to have numerous health benefits due to the antioxidant properties of thyme and sumac.
If you're interested in trying za'atar, it's available in many grocery stores, or you can make it at home by combining the ingredients above. "Having a few spice blends in your repertoire can help you easily make tasty, flavorful dishes without much effort," says recipe developer Taylor Murray. Join us as she walks us through an easy chicken skewer dish that's dusted with za'atar and served with a punchy yogurt sauce.
Gather The Ingredients For Za'atar Chicken Skewers
Making za'atar chicken skewers is simple and straightforward. For the skewers themselves, we only need to gather some cubed boneless skinless chicken thighs (though breasts can work, too), olive oil, and some za'atar. You can buy this spice blend at the store, or mix it yourself. We also want to do a dip on the side to add flavor and texture, so for that, we will need some plain full-fat Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and a clove of fresh garlic.
Marinate The Chicken
Begin by selecting a large mixing bowl, large enough to comfortably accommodate the chicken thighs as well as allow room for stirring. Place the chicken thighs in the bowl and evenly sprinkle the za'atar spice blend over the chicken. Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken and za'atar, coating the chicken evenly.
This will help the za'atar adhere to the chicken and also impart a rich flavor to the meat. After adding your ingredients, season the mixture with a pinch of salt. Using your hands or a spatula, gently mix the chicken thighs, ensuring each piece is uniformly coated with the za'atar and olive oil blend. Once mixed, the chicken should appear glossy from the oil and speckled with the herbs from the za'atar. Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
Thread The Skewers
Find some metal or wood skewers that have been soaked for at least an hour. Carefully thread the chicken onto the skewers, evenly distributing larger pieces and smaller pieces to ensure even cooking during grilling. Place the skewers on a tray and prepare the grill for cooking. Aim for a medium to medium-high temperature on the grill and make sure the grill grates are scraped and oiled.
Cook The Chicken
Once the grill is ready to go, place the skewers on the grill and start cooking. "There are a ton of tips for having success with grilled chicken, but, personally, I think an even heat and a well-oiled grill grate are the two most important factors," says Murray. Allow the chicken to sear on this side, undisturbed, for about 5-7 minutes. The goal during this period is to achieve a delightful char on the chicken, which not only adds a smoky flavor but also gives an appetizing golden-brown appearance.
After the first side has achieved this desired char, use grill tongs to flip each skewer over. Again, let the chicken cook for another 5-7 minutes. The exterior should be nicely charred, and the interior of the chicken should no longer be pink. Depending on the thickness of your chicken pieces, you may need to adjust your cooking time slightly. When done, remove the chicken to a plate and set aside for a few minutes before serving.
Make The Yogurt Dip
While your chicken skewers are cooking or resting, shift your attention to creating the accompanying dip. Into a bowl, scoop out the creamy Greek yogurt. Fold in the lemon juice and grated clove of garlic. Season to taste with salt (about a pinch should do) and serve with the chicken. "I like making simple yogurt sauces like this, and sometimes I'll add sumac, chopped fresh herbs, or grated cucumber to add extra depth of flavor," Murray tells us.
This dish makes a great main course and can be served alongside various side dishes such as fluffy pita, tabbouleh, or a simple fattoush salad. It also works well as a high-protein meal prep component, as the chicken thighs hold up well to refrigeration and reheating. The chicken should last up to 5 days covered in the refrigerator.
Grilled Za'atar Chicken Skewers Recipe
Prep Time: 35mCook Time: 15mYield: 4 ServingsIngredients
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons za'atar spice blend
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely grated
Olive oil, for drizzling
In a large bowl, combine the chicken thighs, za'atar, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Mix well, ensuring that the chicken is well-coated with the za'atar and olive oil mixture.
Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes to an hour. For best results, marinate for up to 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Once marinated, thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers.
Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat, then place the skewers on the grill. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until the chicken is fully cooked and has a nice char.
Once cooked, remove the chicken skewers from the heat and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and grated garlic. Mix well and season with salt to taste.
Transfer chicken to a large plate and serve with yogurt sauce.
Drizzle with extra olive oil, if desired.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.