You might be looking at this asking yourself “what and what chicken?” but trust me if you haven’t yet been introduced to either za’atar or harissa, it’s beyond worth it, and may become a new family favourite.
So, what are they?
Za’atar is a middle eastern splice blend containing thyme, oregano, marjoram, or some combination thereof, mixed with toasted sesame seeds, sumac and salt. It’s herby, savory and the sumac gives it a lemony tang. Delicious on grilled meats, baked on top of breads, in dips or sprinkled on anything.
Harissa is a Tunisian red pepper paste. Spicy with roasted red peppers giving it some sweetness, chilis, garlic and spices. Great as a condiment or for cooking with. I love putting it in shakshuka or “eggs in purgatory”.
Combine both and put them on chicken? Yes please!
You can find these both online, in Mediterranean specialty shops or even your local grocery store. I’m lucky enough that my large chain shop actually carries more than one type of harissa!
Give your za’atar a taste before using as the amount of salt in the mix, if any, may vary. Adjust the amount of additional salt added if needed. (This is the one I’m using: link here)
I also add a bit of potato starch/corn starch to this. It won’t completely crisp these (unless you deep fry.) but it gives it some body, helps everything adhere to the chicken and will have some crunchy bits.
What you need:
- 1 lb boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized chunks (feel free to just sub wings here)
- 1 heaped tbsp of za’atar
- 1 tbsp honey or agave
- 1 tbsp mild harissa
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp potato starch or corn starch
- Preheat oven to 400, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix.
- Place in an even layer on the baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken. It should be cooked through and lightly browned. If you chose to use bone-in chicken wings, this will take 20 minutes longer. Cook until the skin is crisp and fat is rendered.
I like to sprinkle a little bit more za’atar on the top at the end and serve. They are saucy and flavourful enough that they don’t need any dipping sauce, but you can always serve them with a side of extra harissa.