For the Juiciest Grilled Chicken, Just Add Yogurt

Of all the issues to get enthusiastic about as grilling season kicks in — the crisp-edged pork butt, the herb-rubbed lamb legs, all these resplendent peppers and eggplants and burgers galore — humble hen thighs fall to the backside of the record.

It’s not as a result of hen thighs are inherently much less scrumptious than burgers and lamb. It’s simply that, being workaday staples you’re more likely to whip up on any given Tuesday, they’re most likely not the very first thing you’re pining to throw on the grill.

This yogurt-marinated hen goals to vary all that.

Credit…Ryan Liebe for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andews.

With an intensely flavored marinade buzzing with za’atar, garlic and lemon zest, these hen thighs are deeply savory, even when marinated for under a few hours. And for those who unintentionally overcook them — a threat confronted by even the most skilled griller — the yogurt ensures they are going to nonetheless emerge juicy and piquant on the inside, and striped bronze and glistening on the floor.

A standard marinade ingredient in South and Central Asia, yogurt has a centuries-long historical past of getting used to tenderize meat destined for perilously excessive warmth, like hen tikka cooked in a tandoor or lamb kebabs seared on a charcoal grill.

Credit…Ryan Liebe for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andews.

Abetted by somewhat salt, the yogurt helps the meat retain its moisture when up towards raging hearth, and provides a mellow tang that you may simply perk up with no matter aromatics you have got readily available. Any mixture of alliums (garlic, onions, shallots) with herbs, spices and an optionally available chile can discover a comfortable house in the marinade bowl. As lengthy as you be certain that to make use of sufficient salt — between ½ and ¾ teaspoon salt per pound of bone-in hen — you actually can’t go mistaken.

Another good thing about yogurt, based on Nik Sharma, a cookbook writer, meals scientist and contributor to New York Times Cooking, is that it comprises lactic acid, which is gentler than the vinegar and lemon juice present in different marinades. This provides you an extended window of marination time, letting you soak your meat for as much as 24 hours with out it getting mushy, he wrote.

All of this implies you possibly can toss every thing collectively in the morning (or the day earlier than) after which grill it while you’re good and hungry. Or if grilling isn’t in the playing cards, you possibly can even throw the hen below your broiler. Forgiving and adaptable, these hen thighs will prepare dinner up superbly textured and completely seasoned — regardless of the way you apply the warmth.

Recipe: Grilled Za’atar Chicken With Garlic Yogurt and Cilantro

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