Hey, What’s Cookin’?
Shawarma is a famous Middle-Eastern meat dish, famous for its complex spices and rich taste. Technically, this recipe should actually be called Shawarma-Style Chicken; true shawarma is cooked with stacked, spice-marinated proteins (lamb, turkey, chicken, beef, or a mix of meats) on a vertical spit. The shawarma turns and cooks on the spit for hours and hours, basted in fat and its own juices. Thin slices of meat are shaved from the surface and served. But because few American kitchens are equipped with a vertical spit/roaster, we are going to settle for cooking it in the oven!
The spices for Chicken Shawarma are easily available in most grocery stores; it’s the combination that makes them special. If you’re tired of the same old sauteed or grilled chicken, give Chicken Shawarma a try! Don’t subsitute chicken breasts for the thighs if you can help it; so much of the flavor of Chicken Shawarma comes from the dark meat.
Adapted from a New York Times recipe
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
- 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbs olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into eighths from root to stem
- 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
- plain Greek yogurt, such as Fage 2%
- shredded iceberg lettuce
- vegetable sides such as tomatoes wedges, sliced cucumbers, sliced bell pepper, olives, or cauliflower rice
- Prepare the marinade for the chicken by combining the salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes in a 1-gallon zippered plastic bag. Shake to combine. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic and massage the bag to combine the wet/dry ingredients. Now chicken and massage bag to coat pieces thoroughly. Seal bag and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight. The longer the marinade, the better the flavor.
- When ready to cook, heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Add the onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine. Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade, and spread evenly over the pan.
- Put the chicken in the oven and roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to rest 2 minutes, then slice into bits.
- Optional Step: To enhance the flavor of the chicken and make it even more crisp, set a large pan over high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, then the sliced chicken, and sauté until the pieces curl tight in the heat.
- Scatter the parsley over the top of the chicken/onions, and serve on a bed of shredded lettuce with little dollops of plain Greek yogurt, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, or cauliflower rice.
Notes: Finish with a dash of hot sauce if you like.
Photo from the New York Times