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This week, we travel to the Middle East for a meal I had very high hopes for: Chicken Shawarma. Like many recipes before, this one comes from NYTimes Cooking and the brilliant mind of Sam Sifton. Sams the sharp end of all things food at the Times including the NYTimes Cooking newsletter. Although many of the links and recipes in it are behind a paywall, its well worth subscribing to the newsletter, which is free. I say this because Sam writes so beautifully and effortlessly about food. His newsletters take a very conversational, stream of consciousness tone that makes them very easy to read. I didnt pick this recipe because it was from him, but his authorship of it definitely solidified its already firm place on my list of 26 dishes. Okay, swooning over, back to the regularly scheduled programming!

Prepping the Dish

This recipe had all the hallmarks of an attractive December weeknight dinner recipe. With the exception of the chicken thighs and red onion, the ingredients were ones I had in the pantry. Those pantry ingredients (turmeric, cumin, olive oil, and plenty of garlic among others) smelled awesome as I whisked them together and tasted great. The one big surprise: 2 teaspoons of pepper is visually impressive amount of pepper!

With everything whisked, the only thing I needed to do was mix in the thighs, cover it, and refrigerate it. Since the recipe calls for a 1-12 hour marinade, I was able to tackle the entire prep before work this morning.

Nap time for the chicken

Cooking the Dish

As easy as the prep was, cooking this dish was even easier: all I needed to do was preheat an oven to 425 F, peel and quarter a red onion, add it to the marinade, spread everything onto a baking sheet, and cook for 30-40 minutes. For insurance, I used my wireless meat thermometer so Id know when everything was done and wouldnt overcook anything.

Overall Impressions

The chicken was perfectly moist, a great base protein for any dinner adventure. The cumin rightly is the most prominent flavor in the dish, while the turmeric lends its unmistakable visual impressions. I had yogurt in the fridge so I whipped up a basic white sauce with chives (that doubled as a garnish) lemon juice, cilantro, parsley, salt, and pepper all to taste. The sauce was welcomed and I recommend serving one with this dish.

Looks done to me

My one complaint is the chicken was nothing show-stopping and in that sense didnt live up to my hype, but turned out fine nonetheless. The recipe had an optional step of placing oil in a skillet over high heat and adding the chicken for more crisp. I did this but still didnt get that crispy crunch I believe the dish is missing. My mind wanders to warmer months and is excited to try this dish on the barbecue. Until then, Ill be striving to get that crisp either using the oven/stovetop method again, or going with the high heat of the stovetop alone.

Final Word

Easy to prep and lots of inactive cook time, this chicken shawarma dish is a great way to change up your chicken routine. My gut tells me some char on the chicken from a grill would make this a really good dish. Dont like that give you the wrong impression of this dish: the chicken comes out as moist as youd hope and can be served with a variety of sides or sauce, like the yogurt sauce I used, that make this easily adaptable to any pallet.

Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma

Time: 45 minutes Yields: 4 servings


  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 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
  • teaspoon turmeric
  • A pinch ground cinnamon
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  1. 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 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 saut until everything curls tight in the heat.) Scatter the parsley over the top and serve with tomatoes, cucumbers, pita, white sauce, hot sauce, olives, fried eggplant, feta, rice really anything you desire.

Dish 23: Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma originally published by kbprior on Tue, 10 Dec 2019 01:29:29 +0000 at _https://quincykitchen.wordpress.com/2019/12/10/dish-23-oven-roasted-chicken-shawarma/


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