grilled tahini chicken

We spent so much time outside this weekend, soaking up the sun before the bugs invade. We kayaked down the Red River, cooked weenies over a fire, biked all around town, and planted our garden! Finally! I’m so excited. Our method for choosing what to plant was that if anything had “rainbow” in the name, we got it. Rainbow carrots, rainbow radishes, I even OK’ed rainbow beets because they looked so pretty on the seed envelope. We listened to oldies and dug up the dirt and every so often Sven, Ole, Coco, and Macaroni came to say hello. It was the best. Now it’s supposed to rain for the next few days, so I won’t feel so bad staying inside and watching all of Riverdale season 2.

How was your Memorial day weekend??

I have to tell you about this new cookbook that I’m completely in love with! It’s Repertoire, by Jessica Battilana, and the subtitle is “All the recipes you need,” which sums it up perfectly and instantly drew me in. It spoils you with quality over quantity: one insane grilled lamb situation, some really amazing pasta recipes, a few salads I really want to eat, and—wait for it—hot dog fried rice. (Any book that contains a recipe for hot dog fried rice is an instant winner in my kitchen. Same goes for grilled scallion pancakes. Same goes for a whole page dedicated to Negronis and Potato chips.) I love this recipe selection for the same reason I love Grand Forks: when I have a specific craving, there is one reliable option and I don’t have to make a decision. Nothing in Repertoire is fussy and everything feels fresh. It’s the cookbook equivalent to this new Lululemon dress I just acquired that I plan on wearing every single day this summer: it can be dressed up or dressed down and looks good in any situation and feels like Lululemon pants all over my body. Which is to say that I could live in the world of this book. 

Sometimes I dream of having a little guest house on the farm for city friends to come and stay for a long time, like long enough to write an opera. And in this little guest house there would be only the bare bones basics, but like nice cute basics: one perfectly sized matte black dutch oven, one nice wooden spoon, two Marian mugs, and a small pink Smeg. Repertoire would be in this kitchen. 

This tahini chicken is the first recipe I cooked from this book, for obvious reasons. The tahini here is complemented by a fierce amount of lemon and a correct amount of paprika. It doesn’t require too much advanced planning and you don’t need any fancy ingredients. Jessica recommends serving it with the fattoush in Repertoire and, yes, it’s the perfect dill-packed addition. Here is the tahini chicken but you’ll have to buy the book to get the fattoush! Or you can head over to my Instagram where I am giving away a copy!

grilled tahini chicken

serves 4

from repertoire by jessica battilana


1 (3- to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces

kosher salt

6 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tsp whole cumin seeds, toasted (or 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin)

2 tsp paprika

1/4 c tahini

1/4 c lemon juice

2 tb olive oil


season the chicken pieces on both sides with salt, transfer to a plate or small baking pan, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to overnight). 

in a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. add the cumin seeds and pound until ground, then transfer to a bowl and add the paprika, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil and season to taste with salt; it will have the consistency of peanut butter. (if you're using ground cumin, smash  the garlic to a paste with the side of your knife, then transfer to a bowl and add the cumin and remaining ingredients.)

remove the chicken from the refrigerator and slather the tahini marinade all over each piece. cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand until the chicken is at room temperature (no more than an hour).

preheat a charcoal or gas grill for direct, medium-high-heat grilling. when the grill is hot, put the chicken pieces on the grill fate, skin-side down, and cook until the skin begins to brown and you can easily lift the pieces off the grate, then continue to cook, turning frequently and moving the chicken pieces from hotter to cooler parts of the grill as needed, until cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. the chicken has a tendency to stick, so be vigilant about turning it frequently. if the chicken threatens to burn before it's cooked through, you can move the pieces to the cooler zone of the grill (leaving the cover vents open), and continue grilling until it's cooked through; use a meat thermometer or the tip of a sharp knife to check.

transfer to a platter and serve hot or at room temperature.


photos by chantell and brett!