Having been out with friends to a Lebanese restaurant one of our favourite dishes there was the Shawarma Chicken. So the quest quickly came about to try and replicate the tastes from that evening. Typically the Shawarma chicken is made from the thigh meat, unrolled from the bone and often pounded to thin it out further. It is traditionally marinated in a mix of Mediterranean spice mix, sometimes with yogurt added. The restaurant recipe was an “house secret” and so our voyage of experimentation commenced! For our first attempt we bought 16 bone in, skin on, chicken thighs – so the first job was to bone and skin these! It certainly saved a little money, but whether it was worth the additional time compares with chicken thigh fillets I am less sure!
We hunted around for ages to decide a spice mix, the one thing I knew I wanted to include was cardamon – but most of the recipes seemed to miss this out! We ended up going for the ‘most popular’ spice mix and then just added 8 freshly ground cardamon pods (with the husks removed). The next question was ‘yogurt in the marinade or not’? Recipes seemed equally divided over this, but as I like to use yogurt when roasting chicken or turkey – so yogurt got the vote! All the spices were mixed together with the yogurt, the vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice. Into this lovely mix was stirred the pieces of chicken, including some thinly sliced chicken breasts we also had to hand. The whole dish was covered and allowed to marinate for around 14 hours (I am guessing that anything over 4 would be fine).
Then to assemble the meat on the spike. I had managed to get a custom made Shawarma “spike” made via a friend of mine. It was made from food grade stainless steel – but commercial versions are available on the web. The first thing to add to the spike was half an onion. Its job was really to raise the chicken off the bottom of the dish. Although being cooked indirect the bottom of the dish is a good site warmer than anywhere else! Then the chicken pieces were impaled on the skewer alternating as we went to produce the most magnificent kabab! For no particular reason the tower of chicken was then topped off with half a lemon!
The Big Green Egg was set up for indirect cooking with the platesetter in the ‘feet up position’. The Egg was brought up to 200C and the chicken tower was added. The aim was for the EGG to sit at around 200C for the first hour or so and then to reduce the temperature to around 170C – This plan should then give a reasonably ‘well cooked’ outside with a few ‘crunchy bits’ and a more moderately cooked internal mass. Overall, we were looking for a core temperature higher than the one we usually now use of around 64C (held for more than 10mins – see earlier post), but less than the 74C most usually recommended as ‘safe’ as that tends to leave the meat rather tasteless and dry. All that was left to do than was to sit on the patio, open a beer, and wait!
The shawarma was taken out of the EGG and wrapped loosely with foil to rest for 5-10 mins or so, then all that was left was to slice the chicken and serve. We served the chicken with humus, a green salad and some flat breads and that worked perfectly. The dressing for the green salad was olive oil and lemon based which was a perfect accompaniment.
So a great outcome for a first try, beautifully moist, tasty and oh so moreish!! On reflection, I would probably up the level of spicing, but just a little! This was a great dish and one we will return to again I am sure! Try it yourself – I am sure you will love it!
We have since done a very similar recipe but using the Shawarma spice mix from “Angus and Oink” at the rate of 4% spice:meat mix. So for 1.2Kg of Chicken, 48g of spice mix. If anything it was a little more “spicy’ but did not have the cardamon ‘notes’!
Roasted stacked chicken thighs in spicy yogurt
- 16 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 chicken breasts (Optional)
- Half an onion
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 6 tbsp wine vinegar
- 250g of greek yogurt
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp allspice
- 3/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch cayenne
- 8 cardamon pods ground (husks removed)
- Salt and black pepper
- Step 1 Mix the spices with the yogurt, vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice.
- Step 2 Into this mix stir in the boneless chicken thighs – if you are adding some breast meat then slice them thinly, like the thighs, and add these too. Cover the dish and allow to marinate for around 14 hours in the fridge
- Step 3 When ready to cook, add half an onion to the spike then assemble the meat on top. Top off with half a lemon (optional)
- Step 4 Set up the BGE for indirect cooking with the platesetter in the ‘feet up position’. Once at 200C add the chicken tower. Cook at 200C for the first hour or so and then to reduce the temperature to around 170C. Cook until the core temperature approaches 70C (see earlier posts on cooking temperature for chicken). Hold for at least 10 mins
- Step 5 Remove the shawarma from the EGG and wrap loosely with foil and leave to rest for 5-10 mins or so.
- Step 6 Slice the chicken and serve with a green salad some humus and flat breads