I wanted to make Chicken Shawarma sandwiches but, first, I had to roast the chicken. I made a kicked up spice mixture for the marinade with cumin, paprika, turmeric, garlic and then added Aleppo peppers for an almost fruity heat. The flavor profile owes a lot to the mom of a Lebanese friend of mine who used to feed us when I lived in Oakland, California.
After roasting the chicken, we made a meal of it. I set it over a bed of rice pilaf and served it with the onions that I used to elevate the chicken during cooking. The meat was juicy and had a lovely flavor from the overnight marinade. The onion was tender and melt in your mouth good.
After we ate our fill, Mom and I picked the leftover chicken and tossed it in the pan juices before putting it in the fridge overnight with the leftover onion. I then made a delicious Greek yogurt sauce. For lunch the next day, we enjoyed Chicken Shawarma on pita with chopped tomatoes, rewarmed hunks of the roasted chicken and onion, topped with healthy dollops of the tzatziki sauce.
Just fold and enjoy. So very delicious with an awesome mix of textures and flavors with the spiced chicken and garliky, cucumber yogurt sauce. The best of street food and you didn’t have to leave home for it.
Levantine Roast Chicken
1 – 5lb whole chicken
2 lemons, juiced
½ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (can substitute red pepper flakes)
2 large white onions
Use kitchen shears to cut the backbone off the chicken and then slice into the breastbone and crack the bird open. Remove the breast bone and cartilage. Place chicken in a zip top bag. The backbone and breast bone can be reserved in the freezer until ready to make stock.
Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric and Aleppo pepper together and stir well. Pour over chicken and seal bag. Massage to coat the chicken and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a large cast iron skillet in the oven. Carefully remove the skillet and place the onions (each cut horizontally into three thick rounds) on the bottom of the pan and set the chicken on top. Pour over the marinade.
Roast for about an hour or until the meat registers 165 on a meat thermometer. For the last 15 minutes, cover the top with aluminum foil if the wings or skin is getting too dark.
Remove from oven and serve over rice pilaf with each person getting a large round of onion and a ladle or two of sauce.
Here is my quick and easy tzatziki recipe:
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 cup Greek yogurt (I use FAGE Total Plain)
4 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon oilive oil
Grate cucumber into a clean dish towel and squeeze out the moisture. Place the cucumber in a bowl with all the other ingredients and mix well. Taste for seasoning.
I recommend you make 24 hours in advance so that the flavors really come together.
I modified this one from a recipe on the back of the Morton Kosher Salt box. The first thing I did was move the cooking outside as it has been awfully hot and humid lately and I didn’t want to heat up the kitchen.
I’m over at my folks (I evacuated ahead of Marco and Laura) and so I ended up using dried rosemary and lemon juice. I had left a head of garlic here that was about to sprout, so I went ahead and used all of it in the brine.
The buttermilk soak makes for a tender and juicy chicken, even when portions of the drumsticks got over 185 degrees F on the grill. All the flavorings in the brine just raised the deliciousness!
The grilled sweet potato recipe is HERE.
1 quart buttermilk
½ cup olive oil
1-2 tablespoons hot sauce, I used Louisiana hot sauce
1 head garlic (about 10 cloves), crushed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed
3-4 large sprigs rosemary (about ¼ cup dried leaves)
2 lemons, thinly sliced (or 3 tablespoons lemon juice)
¼ cup honey
10 lbs chicken leg quarters
salt and pepper
Whisk together all brine ingredients until well mixed. Add chicken to the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to two days.
Remove chicken from brine and brush off any garlic, peppercorns or rosemary leaves which may have stuck to it. Place chicken on a rack above a rimmed baking sheet. Pat dry.
Prepare the grill for indirect cooking. I use a chimney starter full of charcoal briquets spread on either side so I will be able to put the chicken down the center of my Weber grill.
Soak some hickory chips or a chunk in water.
When coals are well lit, spread out and toss in the hickory to smoke. Cover the grill and let the grate heat up. When you see smoke, it is ready to start grilling the chicken.
Rub olive oil into the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place skin side down on the grill. After 15 minutes, flip chicken over and cook for 45 minutes to 60 minutes more or until a thermometer registers 175 degrees F. You may need to move chicken around to make sure it all grills evenly.
Rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
I bought a whole chicken the other day and found a partial case of old light beer when cleaning my parent’s garage. That made it easy to decide to grill it using the beer can up the the butt method. The added moisture from the beer keeps the chicken moist through the grilling, so you don’t need to brine it.
The rub is all things that are delicious with chicken – rosemary, garlic, sage plus salt and pepper. While the amount I fixed had enough for one chicken, it keeps well in an airtight container, so feel free to double the recipe and keep extra on hand.
I forgot to take a picture before I started carving but you can see how moist the meat and beautifully crisp the skin is after 70 minutes grilling and ten minutes of resting. Very tasty and the leftovers make awesome chicken salad.
Be very careful when removing the chicken from the grill – the can will be slick and the chicken is now top heavy so it can easily slide off a pan. Of course a few grassy notes won’t harm anyone and, if you’re quick to pick it back up, no will ever know you dropped it.
Not that I speak from experience or anything.
Rosemary Garlic Sage Rubbed Grilled Chicken
3-5 lb whole chicken
1 can beer
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
½ teaspoon black pepper
6 tablespoons butter, softened
Pour off about a third of the can of beer and cut the top partially off. Drop in the garlic cloves.
Combine the salt, rosemary, garlic, sage and black pepper. Mix with your fingers. Set aside.
Loosen the skin of the chicken and smear pats of butter under the skin. Use any leftover butter to coat the outside of the skin. Sprinkle the rub onto the chicken about 1 hour before grilling, turning it over to coat all sides.
Set up the grill for indirect cooking. I usually make a half circle with the coals. Ease the very slick chicken down on top of the beer can. It will take a little effort to work it down but, once it is on, the legs will act as a tripod and it will sit securely on the grates.
Grill for 1 hour, with the back of the chicken facing the coals. Take its temperature after 60 minutes and then turn it carefully to finish cooking with the breast side facing the coals.
When the internal temperature has reached 170, remove the chicken from the grill. Use tongs to separate the hot can of beer from the chicken and discard. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before carving and serving.
I cook a lot of chicken but my favorite kind of chicken is fried. I really like the drumsticks, when they’ve been done right so the meat is juicy and the skin is crunchy. This process has the oven fry the chicken and, while you need be careful when moving the oven rack and turning and removing the chicken so as not to spill the oil, it makes a pretty delicious fried chicken.
I had a 10lb bag of chicken leg quarters that I divided and used the thighs for another recipe.
This being the time of isolation, I had no ranch seasoning in the house. However, I made one up from the spices in my parent’s cabinet.
It was quite good with the skin crunchy and the meat flavorful and juicy.
Buttermilk Ranch Oven Fried Chicken Drumsticks
4 lbs chicken parts (I used drumsticks)
1 quart buttermilk
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup peanut oil
Place drumsticks in a zip top bag. Combine buttermilk, salt and pepper and pour over the chicken. Seal the bag well and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Mix together the ranch seasoning ingredients with the flour. Place in a shallow dish. Pour the buttermilk in another dish.
Roll the brined chicken pieces in the flour, a few at a time, until well coated. Then, dip chicken in the buttermilk followed by another coat of seasoned flour. Place on wire rack when done and keep in the refrigerator while the oven comes to temperature. Letting the chicken dry out a bit will help the coating stay on better.
Preheat oven to 450 with a 12″ cast iron skillet and the peanut oil in it. The oil should come up about ½ inch of the skillet. It is important to be heating the oil and skillet as the oven heats.
After the oven has been at temperature for 15 minutes, open oven and use tongs to carefully place chicken in the hot oil. Be careful here, especially when moving the oven rack in and out.
Cook for 30 minutes. Turn drumsticks over and cook for 30 minutes more. Internal temperature of the drumsticks will be 175-180 degrees F. Remove to paper towels to drain and serve.
This is a combination of a Greek avgolemono soup with chicken, rice, eggs and lemons and a low country bog (a swampy chicken and rice soup) common to the Carolinas. I like the addition of lemons to clear out the sinuses and, with all the worries about COVID-19, what could be more comforting and healthy than chicken soup?
If you don’t want to hassle with making the chicken stock, buy 10 cups of stock from the store and get a rotisserie chicken from the grocer. Start the recipe with cooking the rice in the stock. A whole chicken usually gives about 3-5 cups of chicken. I reserved the breasts for chicken salad and still had more than 3 cups of chicken to shred for the soup.
The final dish is silky and refreshing while also being immensely comforting.
Chicken and Rice Soup
1 – 4lb whole chicken, rinsed
10 cups water
2 carrots, broken in half
2 stalks celery, broken in half
1 small onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups long grain rice
½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
⅓ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely chopped
2 large whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
In a large stock pot, place chicken, carrots, celery, onion and garlic in the water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 60-90 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and water has become a flavorful broth.
Set chicken aside to cool slightly. Strain and discard solids from liquid and return the chicken stock to the pot. Run it through a fat separator if you want to reduce the fat in the final dish. Pick the meat off the cooled chicken, until you have at least 3 cups of chicken. Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces and set aside, discarding skin and bones.
Bring broth back to a boil. Cook rice in the broth with salt and pepper on low heat until soft and tender, about 20 minutes.
Ladle out one cup of the cooked rice and place in a blender with lemon juice and zest and the eggs. Blend until smooth.
Stir shredded chicken into broth. Very slowly, add the warm egg/lemon mixture into the pot, whisking constantly to prevent any clumps from forming. With heat on low, cook for about ten minutes or until thickened. Taste for seasoning.
This soup will continue to thicken when stored, so have about a cup of chicken broth when reheating the soup. As it warms, the liquids will combine and make it the perfect thickness.
I had been craving tzatziki and decided to do a Mediterranean style chicken dinner. I’m calling it that instead of Greek as I don’t recall ever having couscous in Greece. This is a pretty quick cooking recipe (although the tzatziki and marinade will take a few hours). Actual cook time is around 20 minutes.
My recipe for tzatziki can be found HERE and you only need to make it a couple hours in advance for the flavors to come together. It will be stronger the next day, so don’t go too crazy on the garlic (unless you really hate vampires).
A few crumbles of feta cheese would have gone nicely with this dish, too.
Stuff any leftover meat in a pita with some more tomatoes, a little lettuce and another dollop of tzatziki. Definitely food for the gods!
Mediterranean Chicken with Couscous
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon lemon zest
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup couscous
½ cup of Kalamata olives
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 recipe tzatziki
Slice the chicken into strips. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together and place the marinade and chicken in a zip top bag. Remove as much air as possible when sealing the bag and massage the marinade into the chicken. Set in the fridge for up to 4 hours.
Heat 2 cups of water to boiling. Place the couscous in a medium boil and pour the water over. You can use broth here for more flavor but water is fine. Cover and let stand for at least 5 minutes.
Heat a skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir fry the chicken until done, about 5 minutes per side.
Pit the olives and slice into quarters. Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves. Fluff the couscous and stir in the olives and tomatoes.
Place a couple of spoonfuls of the couscous on each plate. Add four strips of chicken and a healthy dollop of tzatziki and serve.
When pulling a prepared pie crust out of the freezer for a pie, I found it was broken in half. While I could have thawed it and pressed it back together, I decided to hold on to it for a quick dinner instead. After a day of working in the yard (who knew the trees had so many leaves in them!), I wanted something uncomplicated but delicious.
You can coat the chicken in most any pesto sauce you like – I had a small jar (6.5 ounce) of A.G. Ferrari sun-dried tomato pesto that I used but feel free to use a more traditional basil pesto or even artichoke pesto. What you are looking for is a good flavored sauce that will go well with chicken.
I parboiled a sliced potato while the oven was heating, then drained them and tossed them with olive oil and rosemary salt and put them around the baking sheet. After 20 minutes, flip them over. When sprinkling on the parmesan cheese, put some on the potatoes, too.
If you are told by your girlfriend that potatoes don’t count as a vegetable – slice a large zucchini into spears and toss with a little oil oil, salt and Italian seasoning. About ten minutes into the chicken’s cook time, place the zucchini skin side down around the pastry covered chicken on the baking sheet. After about 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan cheese.
Quick Chicken in Pastry
2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 frozen pie crust, thawed (I used one of the Pillsbury Pie Crusts)
1 jar (about 1 cup) pesto sauce
1 tablespoon milk
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese, optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Pound the chicken to a uniform thickness. Make three shallow slices across the meat. Slather completely with the jarred sauce. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Place any leftover sauce on top of the chicken.
Cut the prepared pie crust into strips. Cover the chicken, overlapping each slice. Tuck under the ends. Beat egg with the milk. Brush over the top and sides of the pastry.
Bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is done. At the 20 minute mark, sprinkle everything with a little parmesan cheese, if using.
I spent a lot of time in Greece while in college, as my Dad was stationed there. The flavors of the roasted chicken we got there still resonate in my mind – garlic, lemon, oregano. While Greek oregano has its own special taste and aroma, using generic dried oregano will work in this dish.
I used a deep cast iron pan instead of a roasting tray. I warmed it the oven while the stove preheated, so it sizzled a little as the potatoes went into the pan. As the chicken cooks, the potatoes will soften and become creamy in the pan juices, so expect your guests to fight over them.
The scent of the house as this chicken roasts must be what Elysium is like!
Greek Style Roast Chicken with Potatoes
1 4 lb whole chicken
1 stick butter, divided
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Zest and juice of one lemon plus one additional lemon, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 to 4 russet potatoes
salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl, use a fork to mix 6 tablespoons of the softened butter with the garlic and lemon zest.
Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the inside of the chicken and stuff in the lemon halves. Gently separate the skin and work the butter garlic mixture under the skin and massage to work into an even layer over the flesh.
Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter with the olive oil. Stir in the lemon juice. Massage this mixture all over the outside of the bird.
Slice the potatoes into rounds and place in bottom of roasting pan. Place chicken on top, tucking the wings under to prevent burning. Pour over any remaining olive oil, butter and lemon juice. Sprinkle salt and oregano over chicken.
Bake for 90 minutes in a 400 degree F oven, basting every thirty minutes with the pan juices. The dish is done when the internal temperature of the bird is 165 degrees F. Let rest for 10 minutes before squeezing the roasted lemon halves over the chicken and slicing for serving.
I had a package of Boursin Gournay Cheese that I found in the back of the fridge and boneless chicken breasts were on sale, so we had basically all we needed for a chicken dinner. Toss in half the package of portobello mushrooms and we upped the deliciousness factor by twelve.
I used the Garlic and Herbs style of Boursin but every kind they have would work in this dish. If you don’t have Boursin, you can approximate your own by whipping half a package of cream cheese and mixing in garlic and herbs and a little salt.
This is a two person dish but can be scaled up for a larger dinner.
Boursin and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts
2 large boneless chicken breasts
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced thin
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons pecans, toasted and chopped
2.5 ounce package Boursin Gournay cheese, room temperature
⅓ cup flour
1 egg, beaten with a teaspoon of olive oil
½ cup breadcrumbs or crushed corn flakes
In a small skillet, sauté the mushrooms in butter until they’ve released their juices. Set aside to cool slightly while you pound the chicken breasts to about ¼ inch thick.
Stir pecans into the Boursin cheese. Stir the still warm mushroom with the cheese and pecans. Spread in a thick layer over the pounded chicken. Starting at the narrow end, fold up the chicken breast, tucking in the ends. Secure with toothpicks. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the stuffed chicken from the fridge and take off the plastic. Dredge them in flour, coat with egg and roll in breadcrumbs or corn flakes. Place coated chicken on a greased baking dish, seam side down. Bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of the breast, until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F and the chicken is slightly browned.
Slice and serve.
For my Labor Day weekend grilling, I’m taking advantage of the local sales on whole chickens and bags of lemons.
I’ve always been a fan of lemon pepper seasoning on seafood, especially fish and shrimp and my dad loves it on his steaks, whether venison or beef. But don’t forget that it also goes really well on chicken, too. You can buy a jar of the seasoning from the store or make your own. I use this version when making my own.
Because Michelle made a special request, I’m serving the chicken with a broccoli casserole and some grilled zucchini with lemon salt. Recipe for the zucchini was found on the Pioneer Woman’s website.
Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken
4-5 lb chicken
4 lemons, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning, divided
Butterfly chicken by cutting out the backbone and the wings. Reserve the backbone and wings for stock. Place remaining chicken in a zip top bag.
Zest two of the lemons and then place the zest and juice from three lemons in a bowl. You want to have about a 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Whisk together with the olive oil, garlic and 1 tablespoon of lemon pepper seasoning. Pour the marinade over the chicken and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours, occasionally turning the chicken to make sure it is fully covered.
Remove from marinade and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides with remaining tablespoon of lemon pepper seasoning.
Set up the grill for indirect cooking. Place chicken on the cool side of the grates with the legs facing the coals. Grill chicken for approximately 60 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Let rest 5 minutes before carving.
For the last 15 minutes of grilling, place the final lemon, cut in half on the grill. Once you’ve plated the chicken for serving, squeeze some of the grilled lemon on each piece for a bright hit of lemon flavor.