Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma
Adapted from The New York Times http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017161-oven-roasted-chicken-shawarma
I can’t remember the last time I had chicken shawarma. I’m talking about real, from a sky-high, spinning rotisserie spit kind of chicken shawarma. It had to have been from the 90s because I remember following the OJ trial and then having a shawarma after. Really, I don’t know why I remember the most random things from years and months ago, yet you can count on me asking on a daily basis, “What was I about say again?”
When I used to work in Boston’s Back Bay (my favorite part of the city!) I would go to Shawarma King in Copley Square for lunch and it was always so good. It always seemed to be crowded and that was for a very good reason. The shawarmas were always so good and full of flavor.
I would stand in line, usually with my co-worker and friend, Jennifer. Because it was the 90s, we probably spent our time in line talking about Hanson and confessing that we actually like “MmmBop” (sorry, Jennifer!). Or talking about the latest Princess Diana commemorative edition of any magazine. Or maybe it was a pair of shoes that I thought were fashionable, but looked like clown shoes to everyone else. OK, in hindsight they were pretty hideous, but being the 90s, I get a bit of a pass, right?
I am pretty confident though that Jennifer and I did stand in line trying to pronounce “shawarma” in the goofiest way possible. “Shhh-aaa-waaaaarm-ahh” was probably the most popular and was kind of like the extended remix version. Obviously, this was a result of us being overworked and/or waiting too long to have lunch that we became delirious.
We always laughed a lot and it made waiting in line for shawarmas worth it. Jennifer and I would go back to work, flip through our Princess Diana commemorative edition magazines and enjoy our shawarmas.
I’ve been thinking of good times like those with Jennifer, and inevitably they have me hankering for chicken shawarma. Shawarma King in Copley Square is long gone so that’s not an option. I know that there are other shawarma restaurants in and around Boston. But rather than me walking aimlessly around the city looking for good chicken shawarma, I thought, why not try to make it at home? But I’d have to do it without a spinning rotisserie that’s taller than me.
And that’s totally fine because I have my awesome sheet pan to make this delicious chicken shawarma. It literally can’t get any easier than this. You marinate the chicken in a combination of amazing spices – including turmeric, which is so good and good for you – and olive oil a few hours or the night before. Then when you’re ready, you place the chicken and red onions on a sheet pan and let it roast for about 35 minutes.
The smell of the chicken and the spices as they’re roasting are simply amazing. Even more amazing is the taste. There is so much flavor here it will blow you away.
I love that you can have this chicken shawarma any way you want it. The first time I made it I served it over rice pilaf and it was a great combination. I would do it again with cauliflower rice. And just as good was having this chicken shawarma in a tortilla or pita with tomatoes, a sprinkling of parsley, and tzatziki. I make my own tzatziki, which is pretty addictive (http://www.thetastypage.com/chicken-souvlaki-lemon-oregano-marinade-tzatziki/) or you can buy store bought (Cedar’s makes a good one). It would also be great on top of simple green salad.
This chicken shawarma is great for meal prep too and you will definitely not be having any sad lunches at your desk during the week.
To me, this chicken shawarma is comfort food. It tastes incredible and reminds me of happy times. It’s always a nice feeling when you enjoy a meal that makes you smile and has such an incredible flavors.
- 2 lemons, juiced
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- A pinch ground cinnamon
- Red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for serving
- Rice pilaf or cauliflower rice, for serving
- 2 tomatoes, for serving
- Tzatziki sauce, store bought or homemade (http://www.thetastypage.com/chicken-souvlaki-lemon-oregano-marinade-tzatziki/), for serving
- Pita or tortilla, for serving
- Prepare a marinade for the chicken. Combine the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes (if using) in a large bowl, then whisk to combine. Add the chicken and toss well to coat. Cover and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours (I recommend marinating overnight).
- When ready to cook, heat oven to 425 degrees. Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to grease a rimmed sheet pan. Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine. Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade, and place on the pan, spreading everything evenly across it.
- 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. (To make the chicken 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 everything curls tight in the heat.)
- Sprinkle with parsley if desired and serve with rice pilaf, or in a tortilla or pita with tomatoes and tzatziki, or enjoy on top of a salad.