Pargiyot Three Ways

Pargiyot literally translates as "baby chicken." I saw this at a restaurant with my mother in Kfar Saba, where she lives, and she laughed[ when I asked her if they were using poussin (real baby chicken). "Pargiyot is chicken thighs," she said. I guess the marketing people took over! Chicken has a mild reputation, but the flavor of chicken cooked over charcoal is ridiculously good. The dark meat of chicken thighs is ideal for the grill — it's far easier to keep succulent than white meat. Chicken takes a marinade incredibly well. For our staple marinade at Zahav, I puree onions in the blender with lemon juice, garlic, oil, salt, and tons of parsley. The interaction of the onion juice with the coals infuses the chicken with the pure essence of the grill. The sugars in the onions caramelize into smoky sweetness, and the lemon and parsley turn the flavor bright and fresh. At Marigold Kitchen, I kept a hibachi just outside the back door and when an order came in, I'd run outside with a marinated chicken thigh and throw it on the grill. If I left it on the fire a minute or two long, the customers never knew. A basic marinade (for any meat) can be adapted in so many ways. Three favorites: The first, based on Zahav's, is greenish — onion, lemons, and parsley; the second relies on harissa for its red and spicy trip to North Africa; and the third has a base of amba, the Iraqi pickled mango that gives the chicken a totally Middle Eastern curry flavor, hence its color.]

Total Time:
4 hr 20 min
Prep:
10 min
Inactive:
4 hr
Cook:
10 min

Yield:
4 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients
  • Onion Marinade:
  • 11/2 cup roughly chopped onion
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Harissa Marinade:
  • 11/2 cup roughly chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup harissa
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 11/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Amba Marinade:
  • 11/2 cup roughly chopped onion
  • 1 cup amba puree (see Cook's Note)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
Directions
  • For any of the marinades: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until the mixture is smooth and about as thick as a milkshake. You may need to add a couple of tablespoons of water to thin the mixture.

  • Toss 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch chunks with the marinade and seal in a zip-top bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.

  • When ready to grill, wipe off the excess marinade, thread the chicken pieces on skewers, and grill directly over hot coals, turning every few minutes, until the chicken has lightly charred on the exterior and is cooked through, about 8 minutes total.

  • Photograph copyright © 2015 by Michael Persico

Cook's Note: Amba is green mango that has been pickled with fenugreek, turmeric, garlic, and about a hundred other things, depending on the style you buy (in a jar). Indian amba is usually chunky and spicy-more relish than sauce and used like a chutney. The Arabic version is smoother and a little viscous from the fenugreek. Amba came to Israel via Iraq but, like fiery Yemenite schug, amba has become an essentially Israeli condiment, especially on falafel. Sometimes we use amba as a puree. To make it, just put a jar of chunky amba in a blender and puree until smooth. You can buy amba at specialty food stores.


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