The most popular post on this site is usually my original review of TJ’s CHICKEN SHAWARMA THIGHS so I thought I would revisit this topic again but specifically about “How To Cook” the chicken.
Let’s start with your Shopping List which might include the following items:
- TJ’s Shawarma Chicken Thighs
- Naan (frozen or fresh, or pita or flour tortillas)
- Tzatziki Sauce – cucumber garlic yogurt sauce goes great with this
- Onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, parsley or cilantro (optional)
- Zhoug Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce, optional)
- other things as you see fit, for example Hummus if you want to do a Shawarma Hummus bowl.
Now there are a number of ways you can cook the chicken. Grilled in a pan, baked in the oven and I’ve even read some people cook these in an Air Fryer. Please don’t even consider cooking this in a Microwave. The chicken needs to be browned to taste good). My simple preferred and I think easiest method is the first: grilling on the stove top. I like to use a cast iron pan but if you don’t have one of those babies any fairly heavy pan will do. Naturally cooking it on an outdoor grill would be great if you can do that. If you want to bake the thighs, you can put them on a sheet pan (use parchment or foil for easy cleanup) and bake them for about 20-25 minutes at 450.
COOKING : Remove the chicken from the package carefully as the marinade can stain; it has both turmeric (yellow) and anatto (red) which in addition to being spices are both excellent natural dyes! If your cutting board gets a bit stained, just use diluted bleach to clean up later.
To even out the cooking in the thighs which have a thick and thin part, I put a few shallow slashes in the thickest parts. This will open let them cook more evenly. You can pat off some marinade with a paper towel if you like. Next what I do is I actually sprinkle on more seasonings just before I put them in the pan to help them brown. No really. Dry spices will help the chicken brown even better, but this is completely optional. I give them a dusting of spices such as Ajika seasoning blend or Smoked Paprika and ground cumin. I may do a bit of all three. If you are cooking the chicken with veggies – which I recommend – prep and slice them. I recommend at least adding a few cloves of fresh garlic sliced up. Onions (and maybe peppers) will be great cooked with the chicken. I add my veggies to the pan 1/2 way during the cooking when I flip the chicken, so I use a large pan.
Get your pan heated on medium; add olive oil or oil/butter mix, say a good tablespoon of oil plus a tbl of butter. When it’s sizzling, carefully put the chicken into the pan. Now DO NOT TOUCH IT. At all. Let it cook at least about 5 minutes and resist all urges to touch it to get a really good sear on the first side (see picture below). It may take about 8 minutes to cook the first side.
When the first side is nice and golden brown, flip the chicken over. This is when I add my sliced onions, garlic (maybe green, red or yellow peppers…) which I place around the chicken – if there is room in the pan (if no room you can cook them in in the same pan when you take out the chicken but they may take about 8 minutes too).
When the thighs are done on the second side, which may take about another 8 minutes, you can remove them to a cutting board or plate. Let the chicken rest a few minutes before slicing. Slice as thicky or thinly as you wish. Put the sliced chicken back into the warm pan (heat is off) scraping in any juices from your cutting board. If you made veggies, you can mix the chicken with them or keep them separated as you see fit. Below is chicken, onions, and some fresh arugula mixed into the warm chicken.
ASSEMBLY: If using Naan, warm up your bread (Naan, pita or tortillas…). For a Shawarma Wrap, put a little sauce down the middle of your Naan, etc. Next add your sliced chicken in the center. Top with grilled onions or peppers if you made these. A little more Tzaziki on top. If you want it spicy then maybe some Zhug mixed in. Optional, a few chopped tomatoes, cukes, parsley, or cilantro. Fold up gently to eat kind like a taco with your hands, or eat it with a knife and fork if you are stuffy!
Other ideas how to serve them? Besides doing eating the chicken with Naan or bread you could just put the shawarma chicken on top of a bed of rice. Or salad greens. Or eat with hummus, served with side dishes like Basmati rice, or maybe Harvest Grain Blend. Or you could make a Shawarma Hummus Bowl. Put hummus in a bowl and top it with slices of the chicken with pita bread on the side. This style is very popular at Middle Eastern places.
Hope this gave you some ideas and that you really enjoy some great Shawarma soon.