This za’atar chicken, made with the earthy, nutty, warming Moroccan spice blend of the same name, disproves the notion that simple can’t also be stylish and supremely satisfying.
This za’atar chicken recipe with a Moroccan spice blend lends its warm, earthy flavor to both the chicken and the easy onion sauce that looks and tastes oh so elegant.–Renee Schettler Rossi
*What Is Za'atar?
Za’atar is a Moroccan spice blend that contains thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac. Sumac has a lemony smack that’s pretty darn potent. The amount of sumac in a particular za’atar blend can vary dramatically, so you may want to play around with a couple different brands of za’atar or homemade za’atar recipes you toss together yourself.
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 45 M
- Serves 4
- For the Israeli couscous
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce or 28 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 cups (300 grams) Israeli couscous (or ptitim)
- 2 1/2 cups (600 milliliters) cold water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the chicken and sauce
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves (about 1 1/2 pound total)
- 2 tablespoons (15 grams) store-bought or homemade za’atar*
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce or 14 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion (about 14 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch (6-millimeter) slices
- 1 tablespoon (8 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups (360 milliliters) homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1. Heat the butter over medium heat in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Once it has melted, add the Israeli couscous and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer until the couscous is tender and has absorbed the water, 12 to 15 minutes.
- 2. Meanwhile, slice each chicken breast into 2 pieces, as if you were butterflying the breast open, but instead cut all the way through. Pound each piece between 2 pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap with a mallet or the heel of your hand or the bottom of a heavy skillet until it’s as thin as possible. The chicken should be between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Season both sides with a generous amount of za’atar and, if desired, salt.
- 3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chicken. Cook until browned and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chicken fillets. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
- 4. Add the butter and the onion to the skillet in which you cooked the chicken. Sauté, tossing often, until the onion softens and begins to pick up some color, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cook, stirring constantly for about a minute to eliminate the floury flavor. Pour in the stock to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a spoon. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Reduce until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken to the pan and spoon the sauce over the top to warm it through. Remove from the heat.
- 5. Place some of the Israeli couscous on each plate and top with a chicken breast, some onions, and a drizzle of sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley.