Kripalu Recipe: Braised Chicken with Za’atar Yogurt Sauce

Here’s one of Executive Chef Jeremy Rock Smith’s favorite comfort foods.

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 pound bone-in chicken legs and thighs
1 cup onion, small dice
½ cup celery, small dice
½ cup carrots, small dice
2 tablespoons sumac
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup French lentils
¼ cup red wine
¼ cup green olives 
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and black pepper to taste

For Za’atar Yogurt Sauce
¾ cup yogurt
1 tablespoon za’atar
1 teaspoon ginger
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

In a  large braising pan, heat coconut oil, season chicken with sea salt, and sear for 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. Remove and reserve chicken.

In the same pan, sweat the onions, celery, and carrots on low heat with the lid on until tender. Add the sumac and smoked paprika and raise the heat to medium to allow the spices to bloom. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add tomato paste and cook on low for 2 to 3 minutes.

Mix in lentils and deglaze with the red wine. Spread lentil mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle olives across the mixture and place chicken on top. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Place a lid on the pan and finish in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour, or until lentils are tender and chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients. When chicken is finished, remove from pan. Reduce lentil mixture to desired consistency. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon lentil mixture onto a plate, then place chicken on top and drizzle with za’atar sauce.