The Chef: Loryn Nalic
Her Restaurant: Balkan Treat Box, in Webster Groves, Mo.
What She’s Known For: Turning a food truck in downtown St. Louis into a celebrated restaurant. Preparing Balkan classics, grilled meats and freshly baked breads with no shortcuts.
WHILE COLLECTING recipes for Balkan Treat Box—first a food truck, now a restaurant in Webster Groves, Mo.— chef
traveled from the Adriatic to the Black Sea, through Eastern Europe and into Turkey. This dish, however, she discovered closer to home. “I always ate a chicken souvlaki sandwich at this Greek restaurant outside of town,” she said. It stuck with her.
But as her first Slow Food Fast recipe reveals, Ms. Nalic didn’t stick to that version. Her travels taught her how to freshen up the street-food standby with herbs, lemon, garlic and a great yogurt sauce.
It starts with marinating diced chicken thigh meat with oregano, parsley and lemon zest. While those aromatics go to work on the chicken, you can make the tzatziki, a cucumber-yogurt sauce that packs a bracing garlic punch. When it’s time to cook the meat, feel free to grill, broil or pan-sear—whatever you have to do to get a good char.
Nestled into warm pita (or whatever flatbread you prefer), drizzled with tzatziki, that smoky chicken becomes a satisfying meal. Garnish with your choice of cherry tomatoes, raw onion, shredded lettuce or feta—preferably all of the above.
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- 1½ pounds boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
- ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh oregano
- ½ tablespoon dried oregano
- Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups plain full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup seeded and thinly sliced cucumber
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
- 4 pitas, warmed
- 1 cup chopped Romaine lettuce leaves
- ¼ cup thinly sliced red onions or shallots
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
- In a bowl, toss chicken with two-thirds of the garlic, 3 tablespoons oil, half the parsley, half the fresh oregano, dried oregano, lemon zest, ½ the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Once chicken is evenly coated, set aside to let flavors meld, at least 5 minutes.
- Lightly slick a grill pan with oil and set over medium heat. Once hot, lay in chicken and cook until well charred on one side, 4 minutes. Flip and cook until meat cooks through, 3-4 minutes more. Add remaining fresh herbs to pan with meat and toss to combine.
- Meanwhile, make the tzatziki sauce: In a small bowl, combine yogurt, cucumbers, dill, remaining lemon juice, remaining garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- To serve: Spread tzatziki over warm pita. Top with warm chicken and pan drippings. Garnish with lettuce, raw onions, tomato and feta.
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