Chicken Shawarma / by Cynthia Raub

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In college, my priorities were: being hopelessly aimless, Depeche Mode, and Ali Baba. I'd walk around campus with my first generation iPod and listen to Enjoy the Silence on repeat daydreaming that it was written for me. After class I would scurry down to Ali Baba, a small Mediterranean place on the edge of campus and order a chicken shawarma gyro. Chicken shawarma is often crisped and browned on its warmly spiced edges, all while juxtaposing and pairing perfectly with the sides it is served with. When a recipe for chicken shawarma was delivered to my inbox, I immediately needed to eat it. I turned on some Depeche Mode and threw some ingredients in a bag to marinate. Once it was done roasting, I shredded off a steaming piece and was briefly transported to the dearly departed memory of my 22 year old, ear-phoned, and aimless self. 

Notes: Shawarma is generally served with tomatoes, cucumbers, pita, tahini sauce, and rice or in a delicious gyro. We decided to make a fussy but worthwhile flatbread that mimicked pita. But this chicken is so versatile and easy that you could eat it on a shoe and be satisfied. 



Time: 10 minutes prep, 1-6 hours inactive, 30 minutes cooking
Yields: about 3 cups shredded chicken

2 lemons, juiced
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
1 tablespoon 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
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes in a sturdy gallon freezer bag. Add the chicken and onion, seal the bag, and massage chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least and hour, or up to 12. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange chicken and onion evenly on rimmed baking pan. Roast chicken for 25-35 minutes until cooked through and browned on the edges. Allow chicken to rest for a couple of minutes before slicing thin in 1/4" strips. 

Optional: To further crisp the chicken, toss the thinly sliced chicken back onto the used sheet pan, drizzle with oil, and roast for 2-3 more minutes until crisp. 

Adapted from: NYT Cooking