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In Palestine, tangy sumac lightens richly seasoned chicken thighs
Milk Street Bowtie Sumac-Spiced Chicken (Musakhan)

Sumac-Spiced Chicken (Musakhan)

1¼ hours

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Sumac-Spiced Chicken (Musakhan)

Free

Sumac is the secret to this dish, a lesson we learned from a young Palestinian named Nadir, who showed us how to make musakhan in a kitchen in downtown West Ramallah. He used a generous amount of the deep-red spice as do we, its tart, citrusy flavor nicely balances the sweetness of the sautéed onion and rich pine nuts in our version. Look for sumac in well-stocked grocery stores, spice shops and Middle Eastern markets; it can also be ordered online.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t skip the tahini for drizzling at the table. Its nutty flavor and richness perfectly complement the chicken. And since tahini separates on standing, don't forget to stir it well before serving.

1¼ hours

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, divided
1 large yellow onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons ground sumac, divided
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
3 cups water
4 8-inch pita bread rounds
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Tahini, to serve
Ingredients
  • 2

    pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 6

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • ½

    cup toasted pine nuts, divided

  • 1

    large yellow onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

  • 4

    garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 4

    tablespoons ground sumac, divided

  • 2

    teaspoons sweet paprika

  • 3

    cups water

  • 4

    8-inch pita bread rounds

  • ½

    cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

  • Tahini, to serve

Directions
  1. 01
    Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry, then season with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until just smoking. Add half of the chicken in a single layer and cook until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with another tablespoon of oil and the remaining chicken. Set the chicken aside.
    See Demo
    Sumac-Spiced Chicken (Musakhan) Step 1
  2. 02
    Chop ¼ cup of the pine nuts and set aside. With the pot over medium, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped pine nuts, 3 tablespoons of the sumac and paprika. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the water, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken and any juices to the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
    See Demo
    Sumac-Spiced Chicken (Musakhan) Step 2
  3. 03
    Heat the oven to 450ºF with a rack in the middle position. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a bowl. Use 2 forks to shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Bring the liquid in the pot to a simmer over medium-high. Cook, stirring, until most of the moisture has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and stir in the remaining ¼ cup whole pine nuts. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.
    See Demo
    Sumac-Spiced Chicken (Musakhan) Step 3
  4. 04
    Brush the pita on both sides with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and arrange the rounds on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until heated through and softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sumac, then cut each round in half and transfer to a platter. Stir the parsley into the chicken and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve the chicken with the pita and tahini for drizzling.
    See Demo
    Sumac-Spiced Chicken (Musakhan) Step 4
Tip: Don’t skip the tahini for drizzling at the table. Its nutty flavor and richness perfectly complement the chicken. And since tahini separates on standing, don't forget to stir it well before serving.
.
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Sumac-Spiced Chicken (Musakhan)

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

1¼ hours

Tip

Don’t skip the tahini for drizzling at the table. Its nutty flavor and richness perfectly complement the chicken. And since tahini separates on standing, don't forget to stir it well before serving.

Ingredients
  • 2

    pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 6

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • ½

    cup toasted pine nuts, divided

  • 1

    large yellow onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

  • 4

    garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 4

    tablespoons ground sumac, divided

  • 2

    teaspoons sweet paprika

  • 3

    cups water

  • 4

    8-inch pita bread rounds

  • ½

    cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

  • Tahini, to serve

Step 1 of 4

Begin to cook the chicken

2
pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry, then season with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until just smoking.


Add half of the chicken in a single layer and cook until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with another tablespoon of oil and the remaining chicken. Set the chicken aside.

Step 2 of 4

Cook the aromatics and simmer

¼
cup toasted pine nuts
2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4
garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3
tablespoons ground sumac
2
teaspoons sweet paprika
3
cups water

Chop ¼ cup of the pine nuts and set aside. With the pot over medium, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened slightly, about 5 minutes.


Add the garlic, chopped pine nuts, 3 tablespoons of the sumac and paprika. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the water, stir to combine and bring to a simmer.


Return the chicken and any juices to the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Step 3 of 4

Shred the chicken

¼
cup toasted pine nuts
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 450ºF with a rack in the middle position. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a bowl. Use 2 forks to shred the meat into bite-size pieces.


Bring the liquid in the pot to a simmer over medium-high. Cook, stirring, until most of the moisture has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and stir in the remaining ¼ cup whole pine nuts. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.

Step 4 of 4

Finish cooking and serve

4
8-inch pita bread rounds
2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1
tablespoon ground sumac
½
cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Tahini, to serve

Brush the pita on both sides with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and arrange the rounds on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until heated through and softened, 5 to 7 minutes.


Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sumac, then cut each round in half and transfer to a platter. Stir the parsley into the chicken and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve the chicken with the pita and tahini for drizzling.

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