One of my favorite things to do is experiment in the kitchen. Spices are so complex and to be honest I typically stick with handful of tried and true combinations I love when I cook. I wanted to make something that would have a warm, comforting feel while still being healthy and simple. The first time I made this I used boneless, skinless chicken breast. It was okay but still lacked something. The second time I made it I used chicken thighs with the skin still on. My husband said it is the best chicken he has ever had, although he may be a little biased.
This combination of spices came after several test rounds. Garam Masala is a complex combination of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and more and is the base of this seasoning. Smoked Paprika is another key in making this mix and it cannot be replaced with regular paprika. Sumac is optional but I really enjoy the bright, almost sour flavor that rounds out the complexity of the other spices. I like to use whole spices when possible, but in the dozen times I have made this the past month I also used all ground spices with equally impressive results. To coat the chicken I found it easiest to mix the spices in a large zip top bag followed by shaking it with the chicken until it is completely coated. Browning the chicken in the pan before allowing it to cook in the oven leaves an ultra crispy skin. The fat completely renders and you are left with an incredibly flavored piece of meat.
Moroccan Chicken with Yogurt Sauce
Author: The Ruby Kitchen
4 chicken thighs with bone and skin
1 Tbsp. garam masala
1 tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. white pepper (1 tsp. if measuring whole spices)
1 tsp. coriander seeds (2 tsp. if measuring whole spices)
¼ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. sumac, optional
1 Tbsp. kosher salt (I used pink Himalayan salt)
1 tsp. olive oil
1.5 c. plain Greek yogurt
¾ c. cucumber
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large zip top bag, combine the spices and mix well. Add the chicken, seal the bag and toss around until the chicken is completely coated.
3. Heat a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Stainless steel or cast iron will give you the best crisping results. Just make sure your skillet handle is not plastic or rubber.
4. Once heated, pour in olive oil and immediately place chicken, skin side down in skillet. Cook for 4-6 minutes or until the skin looks crisp.
5. Once the skin browns, flip chicken skin side up and immediately move skillet to oven and bake for 35-45 minutes.
6. To make yogurt sauce, finely dice cucumber. Place between paper towels and squeeze well to remove excess liquid. In a bowl combine yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. To serve spoon yogurt sauce over the chicken or serve on the side.
8. This chicken stores well and makes awesome leftovers. The pan drippings are also great to drizzle over rice or soak up with some naan bread.