I made something amazing today and immediately had to share. I mean, why not? It’s a Middle Eastern Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner after all.
Okay, that recipe name is a mouthful. Let’s just call it sheet pan full of awesomeness? But that’s not really that much shorter.
Either way, it’s a chicken dinner made on a single sheet pan, with lots of different exciting flavors and textures.
This layering of flavors and textures is something I had to intentionally learn once I healed myself from obsessive dieting.
I talked about it a little in this post, but when I was very deep into dieting and orthorexic behavior, I’d feel the need to cram all the flavors into a dish (without adding any calories, obviously), to make eating it worthwhile.
Usually the outcome was not very pleasant. Think cocoa powder in Greek yogurt with peanut butter and steamed pears and cinnamon and stevia and 2 chopped almonds for crunch.
Or stevia and cinnamon in fat free cottage cheese when I really wanted rice pudding. Because it’s basically the same, right?
Anyhow, I had to learn how to layer flavors and textures in a dish to make it delicious, instead of making it inedible.
This sheet pan dinner is a great example of this skill (YES, it is a skill, let me have my moment):
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks and potatoes with Za’atar (which is a Middle Eastern spice mix, order it if you don’t have any! It’s incredible on chicken and lamb, and also amazing on vegetables like cauliflower). The potatoes and chicken skin get nice and crispy.
- Leeks and fennel with lemon, which get amazingly soft and flavorful.
- A salty, garlicky, lemony yogurt sauce, which thickens once it’s drizzled over the hot chicken. Tastes out of this world.
- Sliced red onion, soft herbs and pomegranate for punches of texture and flavor.
I was inspired by the overload of herbs I currently have in the garden, and also my Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner (which is basically a chicken and potato dinner with Greek inspired flavors).
And I have a Chicken, Potato and Brussels Sprouts Sheet Pan Dinner with za’atar and pomegranate, but it’s not really Brussel sprout season, so I decided to come up with something new.
And so, my Middle Eastern Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner was born.
Sounds delicious? Well, it is. And it’s also incredibly, INCREDIBLY simple to make.
Let me show you:
First, the chicken and potatoes marinate in olive oil, sumach, cumin, salt and pepper for anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes. However much time you have.
And yes, in my opinion that’s fine with the raw chicken and potatoes in one bowl. They will touch on the sheet pan, too, and they will be in a very hot oven for 40 minutes.
P.S: Moose optional 😉
The thinly sliced fennel and leek go into a separate bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest.
Then the chicken and potatoes get 20 minutes in the oven by themselves.
Make sure your sheet pan is large enough to spread them on a single layer. That way they will crisp up and brown vs turn mushy.
Then, the sliced leek and fennel go on top and in between, and everything gets another 20 minutes in the oven.
And then it all turns into delicious perfection through the addition of the yogurt sauce and the other toppings.
These flavors and textures coming together are definitely not a willy-nilly combination. It’s a perfect middle eastern inspired medley and every piece plays its part.
I hope this will inspire you to experiment with flavors and textures to create a dish you’re truly excited to eat. Eating can be so much fun if we let ourselves eat things that are actually interesting and tasty!
Dinner tonight? I think so.
Get the recipe:
For the sheet pan:
- 1.5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks (thighs work, too)
- 1.25 pounds waxy potatoes, cut into chunks
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons Za’atar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 sweet leek, sliced
- 1 medium fennel, thinly sliced
- Grated zest from 1 small lemon
- 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 lemon, juice only
- Mixed herbs (I used mint and flat-leaf parsley; cilantro would be delicious but my husband is a hater)
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Arils from 1/2 pomegranate
- Marinate the chicken and potatoes: Place the chicken and potatoes into a large bowl with 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, black pepper, the Za'atar and the ground cumin. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and mix well. Set aside for 10-30 minutes.
- Marinate the fennel and leek: Add the sliced leek and fennel to a separate smaller bowl with the grated lemon zest, remaining 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil and black pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside until ready to use. Preheat the oven to 420°F.
- Bake the chicken and potatoes: Place the marinated chicken and potatoes on a sheet pan in a single layer and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
- Finish baking: Remove the sheet pan from the oven and scatter the marinated leek and fennel all over the chicken and potatoes. Return to the hot oven and finish baking for another 20 minutes, or until the chicken is done. Finish under the broiler for 2 minutes for extra crispy chicken skin.
- Make the yogurt sauce: While the sheet pan dinner is baking, mix the whole milk yogurt with the minced garlic and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and stir well. Set aside.
- Finish the dish: Remove the sheet pan from the oven. Carefully spoon the yogurt sauce over the chicken and potatoes. Scatter the herbs, red onion and pomegranate all over and serve immediately.