This chicken number made me some good friends when we first moved to Atlanta. We lived in an extended-stay hotel for a few months, and because there wasn’t a proper kitchen, we used the community grill often. One night, I invited some new acquaintances, a group of welders from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to try our style of BBQ. They were somewhat skeptical digging in the oddly seasoned chicken and the yogurt sauce (in place of their usual sweet sauce). By the end of the evening, Wayne, the leader of the pack, gave it a thumbs-up: “Well, Miss Suzy, I reckon I’m okay with Mediterranean barbecue.”
For the Chicken Thighs
- 10 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Kosher salt and ground pepper
- 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
- Juice of 2 medium lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
For the Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/4 cups plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 large lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- Kosher salt
Marinate the chicken: In a small bowl, mix the garlic, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, paprika, and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Pat the chicken thighs dry and season well with salt and black pepper on both sides, then rub with the garlic and spice mixture.
Put the red onion in a large, rimmed dish. Arrange the chicken on top of the onion and pour the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil all over. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
Make the sauce: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the multipurpose blade, combine the garlic, yogurt, dill, olive oil, lemon juice, and cayenne (if using). Run the food processor briefly (or pulse several times) until all the ingredients are well blended and a smooth, thick sauce develops. Taste and add salt to your liking. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl or container. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (I like to let the sauce sit in the fridge for 30 minutes or so before serving to allow it to thicken a bit and develop flavor.)
Grill the chicken: Heat a gas grill to medium-high and lightly oil the grates. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade (discard the onion) and place on the hot grates. Cover the grill and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, then turn the chicken over, cover again, and grill until the chicken is fully cooked through, about another 5 minutes.
Transfer the chicken thighs to serving plates and serve with the yogurt sauce.
Reprinted from “The Mediterranean Dish” copyright 2022 by Suzy Karadsheh. Photographs copyright 2022 by Caitlin Bensel. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.
This article was originally published in American Essence magazine.