Crispy-skin chicken thighs and lamb koftas with lemon-tahini sauce, or two of my newest weeknight meal favorites.

As creative as we like to get in the kitchen on weekends, I have to admit that we are pretty susceptible to falling into dinner routines (or ruts, depending on how you look at it) on weeknights. If work is keeping us really busy it becomes much easier to stick with what we know and bang out dinner without much thinking, but too much of that will leave me feeling rather uninspired, and there’s something to be said about closing out the day with a delicious meal that isn’t just the same old, same-old.

Enter these two meals. The chicken thighs come courtesy of Food52 via Canal House Cooks, and what I love about it is that it’s so low-maintenance. Essentially you place bone-in chicken thighs skin-down on a pan and gently render out the chicken fat until the skin is nice and crispy and brown, and then flip them over and finish off the bottom. I usually throw in some lemon slices to make the drippings that much more flavorful, and while everything is cooking the whole kitchen (and therefore most of our apartment) smells fantastic. Since the packs of chicken thighs that we get at the Teet are pretty ginormous (the better to guarantee leftovers, of course), I split up the thighs between a regular saute pan and the cast-iron skillet. This requires a little bit of heat maintenance to make sure the pans cook evenly, but it also means that the chicken doesn’t get crowded in the pan.

I usually save this for days when Michael is at the gym because he’s usually pretty ravenous when he gets home, and yes, it really is that good. It’s not the lightest of meals so it’s definitely not in the weekly rotation, but sometimes some crispy chicken skin is the perfect way to mark making it to a Wednesday.

These lamb koftas are another matter altogether. They come from my friend Shannon at a periodic table in a piece she did for Feast magazine, and while the chicken is more of an indulgence, these are so light that I’m always tempted to get more lamb just to have more koftas to dip into the sauce and eat. Amazingly they require no breadcrumbs or egg to hold together, and the prep is such that you can get sucked into a live car chase à la Chandler Bing and still have these on the table within an hour or so.

The sauce is even easier: Greek yogurt, tahini, more herbs, lemon juice, and salt are all you add to a bowl and stir well to combine; the most difficult part is not eating all of it before the koftas are finished grilling. We had a little bit leftover because we both inhaled our kebabs, so I tossed it with some grilled chicken I had for lunch the next day and yeah, it was even tastier the next day.

Neither of these recipes require much in the realm of tweaking, so I’m just going to direct you to the sources:

Canal House’s Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon (OK, the only substitution I made here was putting in lots of lemon slices instead of preserved lemons)

Lamb Koftas with Lemon-Tahini Sauce via Feast/A Periodic Table

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6 comments
  1. Biz said:

    OMG, is there a better smell than chicken and lemon?! I love that method of getting a crispy skin – yum. I typically don’t think of it during the summer when I am all about the grill, but I think I’ll have to make that – soon!

    And yes, I do think the calories are on the low side – but I err on the side of caution because I am not sure of the calories, and I know I am going to be adding in my morning creamer to my coffee – some things I just refuse to give up – life is too short!

    • It doesn’t seem to add too much eat to a kitchen (granted ours has really high ceilings so what do I know) and OMG, the skins are amazing. Grilling is not something we can do much of with no backyard, so we get by with what we can. 🙂

      Re: calories and your post, the only thing that gave me pause was that they advocated doing pretty high-intensity workouts and as someone who does those, I will be the first to say that I need recovery calories after some epic workouts because otherwise I will get HANGRY. Your mileage will vary of course, but I’ll be curious to see how it all goes!

  2. Brianne said:

    Yum. The Kitchn had a similar recipe for chicken thighs 3-4 years ago that I had a raging obsession with for a while. There was fennel involved, which made it next level. And those dang koftas. Sound so good, but lamb is just something that happens so rarely in my kitchen! My weeknight go-tos this summer have been black bean bowls and avocado toast, mostly because the guy hates both and since he’s not there, I can eat what I want!

    • That sounds familiar–I’m sure it’s popped up in so many iterations over the years. (I mean, it is chicken!)

      Oh man, I love me some lamb, and between this and hummus kawarma from Jerusalem I’m so glad my markets tend to keep ground lamb in stock regularly.

  3. Now I want kofta! I stuffed myself silly on them when we went to Greece. Maybe I’ll visit the butcher this week and rustle up some lamb…

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