For his take on chicken souvlaki (Greek skewers of grilled meat), Jimmy Bannos Jr. sears marinated chicken thighs on a cast-iron griddle, which gives them “the crispiest, best skin ever,” he says. To serve alongside the skewers, he fries smashed baby potatoes until they’re tender and golden.
Recipe from Food & Wine America's Greatest New Cooks
2 pounds boneless chicken thighs with skin, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper (see Note)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 English cucumber—peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and finely diced
2 radishes, finely diced
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes
Vegetable oil, for frying
Freshly ground pepper
How to Make It
Step 1 prepare the chicken
In a baking dish, toss the chicken with the olive oil, garlic, paprika and Aleppo pepper until well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Step 2 make the tzatziki
In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt with the crème fraîche, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and vinegar. Fold in the cucumber and radishes and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate the tzatziki until well chilled, about 1 hour.
Step 3 meanwhile, prepare the potatoes
In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and simmer over moderate heat until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a baking sheet to cool completely. Using your hand, gently smash the potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.
Step 4 meanwhile, prepare the potatoes
In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the potatoes and fry over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
Step 5 meanwhile, prepare the potatoes
Preheat the oven to 400°. Preheat a cast-iron griddle. Thread the chicken skin side up onto 12 skewers (see Note) and season with salt and black pepper. Arrange the chicken skewers skin side down on the griddle and cook over moderately high heat until the skin is crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the skewers to a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Serve the kebabs with the crispy potatoes and tzatziki.
The tzatziki can be refrigerated overnight.
Aleppo pepper is a moderately hot crushed dried chile from Turkey and Syria; it is available at gourmet markets and penzeys.com. If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before threading.