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Mar 2009

Dinner at Home: Yogurt-Marinated Chicken

This is one of the easiest, tastiest dinners that has become a reliable favorite on nights when I don’t have inspiration for much more. Like last night. Just three things to buy at the store: chicken thighs, yogurt (and no, you can’t use nonfat yogurt for this, not allowed) and a bunch of cilantro. Maybe fresh ginger if I remember, which I didn’t yesterday. Everything else is at home on the shelf.

The only caveat is to plan ahead at least a few hours so the chicken has time to marinate and take on the delicious flavors. A couple hours will do in a pinch.

For starters, I shake lots of ground cumin and coriander into a bowl just large enough to hold the chicken thighs (I typically cook 4 thighs for the 2 of us). In goes a pinch of something spicy, whether dried red pepper flakes, cayenne or (as last night) controne hot pepper. Garlic, and keep it coming; sometimes pressed but I usually Microplane it to get the most of its garlicky juiciness (sometimes finely grated ginger as well). A good dose of salt and freshly ground black pepper too. Then I add a few big spoonfuls of plain yogurt (about half of a 32 oz container) and a generous handful of chopped cilantro, and stir all the deliciousness together.



I’ll usually take just a moment to trim the thighs of any excess skin and fat from around the edges, but keeping the skin on for cooking is paramount in my opinion. The thighs get tossed around a bit in the marinade to be sure all are thoroughly coated, then covered and into the fridge for a spell.

You’ll see I line my baking sheet with foil, also paramount when it comes time to clean up. Cut a generous piece, fold up the edges and crimp the corners, since the yogurt and juices will spread and brown to a sticky delicious mess as things cook. You’ll thank me later.

The baking portion I do at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or so. Then I crank up the broiler and let it work to brown the skin for a few minutes before serving. The yogurt adds wonderful tang and juiciness to the chicken

...and after

...and after

meat, but the skin can be bland and flabby without that extra step to brown and crisp it. In truth, the skin ends up being one of the best things about this dish.

While constructing the marinade, I was echoing the ingredients in a smaller bowl, with a higher yogurt-to-seasoning ratio for a side salad. In goes a peeled, seeded and sliced cucumber, the salad chilled to serve alongside the easy entree. Not a bad dinner–with some simple steamed broccoli alongside–for a no-energy Monday.

3 Comments for this entry

March 21st, 2009 on 4:50 pm

this sounds muy delicioso, but if i’m not a dark meat person, will this work with breasts?

    March 23rd, 2009 on 1:03 pm

    Sure, you can use chicken breasts. I’d recommend keeping the skin on for cooking (even if you take it off before eating, though honestly it is pretty darn tasty!), which will help keep things moist and delicious. And ideally shoot for a good 3 to 4 hours marinating, which will also help boost the juiciness of the leaner breast meat. Depending on how large they are and whether on the bone or not, breasts may also require a bit less cooking time. Just be sure to cut into the thickest portion and make sure no pink left!

November 11th, 2009 on 11:23 pm

I tried this tonight. Delicious! The yogurt mixture was thin and separated, not a “sticky delicious mess,” when it was done cooking (and yes, I used full-fat yogurt), so I didn’t spoon any of the sauce out of the pan, though its flavor was in the chicken and especially the skin.)

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On Cooking Quick: Pork Piperade « Mon Appétit, January 5th, 2010 on 8:46 am

[…] herbs and spices, maybe orange instead of the lemon. A nice staple to fall back on frequently. And this post with its description of a yogurt-marinated chicken I do quite often has become one of the […]