My friend Chris Styler is such a damn fine cook. I love to eat his food, I love to cook with him, and I love the fact that every once in a while we make plans to create some sort of themed meal and throw ideas and ingredients back and forth like bean bags, and finally end up with something quite awesome.
We usually pull the kids in, too—there have been homemade pasta nights, crostada nights, and on one memorable occasion, an all-souffle dinner, which was pretty much as overambitious and crazy as it sounds. We were totally sober when we thought of it, too.
This Chicken Kawarma with Lemon Sauce over Hummus was the result of an idea to cook an entire meal inspired by the cookbooks of Yotam Ottolengi and Sami Tamimi, which focus on food from the Mediterranean and Middle East.
It was a bit of a departure from my normal fare, but I had pretty much everything on hand (ok well, not the pomegrante seeds….), yet had never blended these flavors in this kind of combination. No matter how often you cook, and how adept you are in the kitchen, we can all do with a little nudge to shake things up, push outside of the comfort zone.
(At this point I might do a little dance, something like the bastard step child of twerking, and my children would cower and hide their eyes, and never invite their friends over again).
And while I certainly respect the fact that my kids might not like everything I put in front of them, I was kind of elated and frankly surprised when they inhaled this dinner and asked for more.
Chris and I have called each other since just to reminisce about this recipe. Normal people call each other to recapture about a great symphony or a wonderful party. We might do that, too.
Luckily I wrote down the ingredients as it came together, and it didn’t get lost in the overzealous sipping of pinot grigio that often accompanies our cooking sessions (us not the children). We served it with the Endive and Radicchio Salad with Fresh Mozzarella, which also met with mildly astonishing approval from the entire peanut gallery.
The toppings are optional but the pomegranate seeds in particular provided such alluring burst of somewhat tart sweetness (and gorgeousness) that you should go out of your way to get them. You can now buy them already removed from the fruit, which is a convenience I am so happy to pay for.
Speaking of paying for convenience—if making your own hummus is one thing too many, just buy it. Also if you don’t have the time to caramelize the onions, just slice one onion in half (red or yellow), and then very thinly into half moons and use that. Different, but still delicious (and actually the bite of the raw onion would be super nice against all of the earthiness that’s going on in this recipe).
Chicken Kawarma with Lemon Sauce over Hummus
For the Lemon Sauce
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Zest of one lemon
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons finely minced garlic
- 1 serrano or jalapeno pepper seeded and minced
- ½ teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
For the Chicken Kawarma
- 3 pounds skinless boneless thighs
- ¾ teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoons ground allspice
- ¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- ¼ tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- ¼ cups chopped fresh parsley
- Coarse or kosher salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 recipe Hummus with Sesame Oil or 1 16-ounce store-bought container
- Caramelized Onions see Note
- Toasted Sesame Seeds see Cooking Tip
- Pomegranate seeds
- Make the Lemon Sauce: In a small bowl combine the parsley, lemon zest and juice, garlic, jalapeno, and salt. Set aside.
- For the Chicken Kawarma, dice the chicken. In a large bowl combine the pepper, allspice, cinnamon, oregano, vinegar, mint, parsley and salt. Add the chicken, toss to coat and let marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or in the fridge for about 2 hours.
- In a large skillet over medium high heat add about 2 teaspoons of the oil. When hot, add about 1/3 of the chicken mixture and sauté for about 4 minutes, until the chicken is just barely cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with another 2 teaspoons of oil, and 1/3 of the chicken. Add that to the first batch of cooked chicken. Repeat with the rest of the oil, and the spiced chicken.
- Meanwhile, spread the hummus in a thick circle, with the edges a bit higher than the middle (like a rimmed plate made of hummus). You can do this on individual plates if you’re feeling sophisticated,or on a large platter. Pile the chicken mixture into the center of the circle(s) of hummus, drizzle the sauce generously over the chicken, and sprinkle with any desired toppings.
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