Pargiyot, skewered boneless chicken thighs, are Israel's favorite cut of meat for grilling, equally likely to make appearances on restaurant tables and at family cookouts. My recipe includes a marinade full of Israeli flavors: silan (date honey) and urfa pepper, but you can substitute honey and another kind of chili flakes, too.Yum
If America's barbecue is burgers and dogs on a big backyard gas grill, Israel's is pargiyot and kebabs on a charcoal mangal (portable grill) at the park. Pargiyot (in contemporary Israeli Hebrew) refers to the dish, as well as to boneless, skinless chicken thighs, a favorite cut in Israel. They're served at restaurants alongside hummus and salads, at steakhouses right alongside steak, and, most especially, at the park or on the beach with watermelon and black beer (a non-alcoholic Israeli beer-like concoction that resembles only in appearance American root beer). Pargiyot are finger-licking food and yet almost impossible to mess up, soaking in flavor effortlessly, remaining juicy no matter what, and taking up the grill's wonderful smokiness.
Marinating the chicken thighs
Pargiyot usually get fairly minimalist treatment in the marinade department; they do most of the work for you all on their own. Here we're going with the Israeli flavor of silan (date honey) and urfa pepper (urfa biber), a mild, raisiny smoked Middle Eastern chili. Plus garlic and salt, obviously. If you don't have silan on hand, honey makes a good substitute for it, although the silan is superb here and worth tracking down. Urfa is also a distinctive taste; my next-choice sub would be Aleppo pepper flakes, another Middle Eastern variety. But in a pinch you could use other chile flakes.
Pargiyot cut into chunks, as we're doing here, require about 5 to 6 minutes per side on the grill. They should be slightly charred and completely cooked through, 165-170F / 80C on an instant-read thermometer. If you don't have a meat thermometer, and your pargiyot are a touch rubbery, throw 'em back on the grill for a minute or two.
You'll be able to get three to four metal skewers and five to six wooden skewers with this recipe (because the metal skewers hold more). We finally (like, finally finally) upgraded to straight-sided metal skewers and there's no going back, they're that good. Ours also have these nifty mechanisms for decanting the food, and can be plunked in the dishwasher.
No grill? You could try these under the broiler on high heat, though I haven't tested it out. I often cook grill-ish foods that way, though, with less smokey flavor but still great charring.
Looking for some sides to have with your pargiyot?
- Israeli Hummus - The one, the only, the classic.
- Tahini - Prepared tahini is super easy and also classically delicious.
- Israeli Salad - Obviously.
- Roasted Cauliflower with Green Tahini - If you can deal with turning the oven on, this is a stellar side for pargiyot.
Pargiyot - Israeli Grilled Chicken Thighs (meat)
Marinate the chicken (2 hours ahead to overnight):
- In a baking dish or bowl, combine the olive oil, silan, urfa, salt, and minced garlic. Whisk to combine.
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in the marinade. Turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade, discarding the marinade. Thread onto skewers.
- Grill over direct high heat for 5-6 minutes per side, or until the chicken thighs register 175-180°F / 80°C on n instant-read thermometer.