Turmeric Chicken with Schmaltzy Pita and Cukes

SERVES: 2-3 (depending on how hungry...)

Crispy pita soaked in schmaltzy, spiced, yogurt chicken drippings, and tender burnished chicken legs are the name of the game in this sheet pan dinner. Switch up and play around with the spices if you feel like it, but don’t skip the yogurt–it tenderizes the chicken as it marinates, yielding seasoned and juicy meat.

Active Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 mins

Screenshot 2024-03-22 at 12.45.47 PM

Produce

  • 2 lemons
  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 4 English or Persian cucumbers
  • 1 small bunch mint

Pantry

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 ounces dried apricots (about ¾ cups)
  • Chili flakes, for serving (optional)
  • 2 pieces of pita

Dairy

  • ½ cup labneh or full-fat greek yogurt, plus more for serving

Protein

  • 2 large bone-in skin-on chicken legs (1 ½ lbs)

1. Marinate the Chicken:

  • You can do this as little as 30 min before cooking, and up to 24 hours ahead. The longer the better. In a medium bowl, whisk together ½ cup labneh, 2 ½ teaspoons salt, the juice of 1 lemon, 5 finely grated garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons ground turmeric and lots of black pepper.
  • Add 2 bone-in skin-on chicken legs and turn to coat. If making in advance, cover and chill. If using immediately, leave at room temperature to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Roast the chicken:

  • Preheat the oven to 450.  Arrange the chicken legs in the center of the baking sheet – reserve any and all leftover labneh marinade in the bowl.
  • Tear 5 ounces of dried apricots in half and add to the leftover marinade. Tear 2 large pita rounds into a few big shards each. Add them to the marinade, tossing and scraping the sides of the bowl to coat. Drizzle all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss again to coat.
  • Scatter the pita around the outer edges of the rimmed baking sheet, leaving space in the center for the chicken. Scatter the apricots all over the baking sheet (some can get tucked under to roast beneath the chicken and soak up juices).
  • Roast for 20 minutes, or until the pita is browned and crisp on the bottom sides and the apricots are beginning to char. Remove from the oven; using tongs, flip the pita and continue to roast until crisp all over, 5 minutes longer, pulling the apricots and setting on a serving platter once they are burnished. Once the pita is crisp and golden, transfer it to a cutting board or plate and return the chicken to the oven to continue to roast until the skin is burnished in spots and golden in others, 5-10 longer. If you have an instant-read thermometer, the interior temp where the thigh bone meets the drumstick should read 160F.

3. Meanwhile, make the cucumber salad:

  • Cut 4 Persian cucumbers in half lengthwise. Smash with a rolling pin or olive oil bottle, to bust them up a bit, then tear them into pieces and add to a large bowl. Season the cukes all over with salt.
  • Firmly smash 2 more garlic cloves (enough to expose their innards), and add the smashed garlic to the bowl of cukes (you'll pluck it out later). Season with the juice of 1 lemon, and drizzle generously with olive oil. Set aside.

4. Toss and finish:

  • Once the chicken is roasted, Break the pita down further into chip-size pieces, adding to the bowl of marinated cukes as you go. Toss in the roasted apricots as well. Pick the leaves off one small-ish bunch of mint and tear adding to the salad. Drizzle with more olive oil or more lemon juice if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Spoon some more labneh onto a serving platter. Add the cucumber salad, and any juices left behind in the bowl. Arrange the chicken legs on top, finish with red pepper flakes (if using), and serve!

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