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Za’atar Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Green Yoghurt Dipping Sauce

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I grew up eating possibly the best fried chicken known to mankind—my grandmother’s. Her secret for a crispy, savory and juicy fried chicken is all in the prep. Seasoning your chicken generously with salt is of the utmost importance as well as adding a strong coat of flour and oil that is at the perfect frying temperature, 350 degrees. The goal is to keep the moisture inside the chicken and the oil out for a perfect crispy skin and mouthwatering juicy center. This recipe has hints of her iconic version but is diversified with a Middle Eastern spice blend called za’atar and a tangy, yoghurt dipping sauce. Za’atar is a blend of thyme, marjoram, oregano, sumac and sesame seeds. It adds the perfect amount of smokiness, tang and, of course, what chicken craves most, salt. The dipping sauce is a garlicky-must; think Green Goddess
but better.

One of my go-to fried chicken wines (yes, I have a few) has become the 2014 Stellina Transizione Old Vine Zinfandel. Made with estate-grown fruit, this OVZ from Estate Crush Winery stands apart from the rest. You’ll find an elegant balance of rich, red fruit on the bouquet with aromas of pomegranate, molasses and a peppery/smoky finish. The acid and tannins in the wine are craving something fatty, salty and fried.

I can’t think of a better way to welcome fall with open arms and stomachs than with a silky bottle of OVZ and a tray of hot fried chicken.

Za’atar Fried Chicken and Green Yoghurt Dip
Ingredients
2 pounds chicken legs and thighs
½ cup za’atar
3 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. black pepper
2 cups buttermilk
3 cups all-purpose flour 

Green Yoghurt Dip
1 cup Greek yoghurt
¼ cup buttermilk
2 cloves garlic
½ cup blanched parsley
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by cleaning the chicken under cold water and patting completely dry. Soak in buttermilk for up to 2 hours. In a large bowl, mix together flour, za’atar, salt and pepper. Strain the buttermilk-soaked chicken and roll in flour/za’atar mixture. Let sit on a baking sheet and rest for about 5 minutes before frying. 

Fill a pot with vegetable oil and heat to 350. Once oil has reached temperature, fry chicken for up to 10 minutes or until golden brown on all sides. Garnish with chopped parsley and a sprinkle of za’atar. 

Green Yoghurt Dipping Sauce
Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and the yoghurt changes to a mint green color. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Written by: Lauren Rose

Lauren Rose is obsessed with all things food and wine. As a part-time private chef and sommelier, full-time dinner party queen and Lodi native, she specializes in seasonal, Mediterranean fare with her own millennial twist.