Shawarma | “The Avengers”

by Blake Stilwell

avengers_poster

I don’t really think this movie needs an introduction, as it raked in enough cash for everyone to have have seen it twice. But here we go anyway… The Avengers: the story of seven strangers picked to live in a floating invisible aircraft carrier, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. The working together part was right. They really needed to work together. They’re going to fight a nearly indestructible alien army and one of their crew shoots arrows while another one brought the world’s smallest handgun.

Why not just bring a knife. Seriously.

That scene always reminds me of this:

Anyway, saving the world is hungry work (I mean, probably). Either that or it’s a good way to transition right to the end of the movie because the fight scene ran long but was too awesome to cut. It doesn’t matter why, let’s just celebrate with shawarma, the Middle Eastern sandwich easily found on the streets of Beirut, Ramallah, and New York City. No sarcasm, it’s everywhere. And for good reason. It’s portable and delicious.

If you don’t recognize the second scene from this clip, you need to remember not to leave during the credits of a Marvel movie.

It’s kind of understandable that Tony Stark never tried shawarma. He probably spent more time blowing up parts of the Middle East than getting a feel for its cuisine. But it’s never too late to catch up! Our recipe is for chicken shawarma, but the lamb is really good too.

FYI: This recipe has to marinate overnight, so don’t put off the prep for it.

Ingredients Assemble!
2 lbs of thinly cut skinless boneless chicken breast

The Marinade:
½ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
4 tablespoons plain (Greek) yogurt
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 head of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1  teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground ginger
pinch nutmeg

Instructions
Rinse the chicken in cold water then cut into thinner cuts of about ½ inch. Set aside.

Mix all other ingredients in a blender. Blend. It’s not going to look pretty.

picstitch

It’s delicious, though, I promise.

Mix well with the chicken, cover and let marinate in the fridge overnight. When it’s properly marinated, grill the marinated chicken using a panini grill for about 15 minutes on medium heat. I don’t have a grill, a panini press or a Foreman Grill. So I had to improvise.

photo

Waffle Iron Man

Grilling is the important part. Don’t bake or fry the chicken, you’re trying to recreate the style of a rotating roasting spit. If you’ve never been to the Middle East or a Middle Eastern restaurant, it looks like this:

Shawarma Spit

Once cooked, shred the chicken into bite sized edible chunks. Spread the chicken shreds on pita bread, add some Lebanese Garlic paste ( aka Toum – visit your friendly neighborhood Middle Eastern grocer, specialty store or make your own) or Tahine, and add some salty Middle Eastern-style pickles (also available at a specialty store, but regular pickles will do). Many times this is served with grilled or roasted tomatoes. In the Middle East, it’s served with 7,000 different kinds of pickled vegetable options, a really weak hot sauce, and/or fries. In the sandwich.

photo_2

Earth’s Mightiest Sandwich

I didn’t add tomatoes because I hate them and didn’t add fries because I spent so much effort in cooking the meat this way to lock the juices in, why would I add a condiment that would just sap them from the meat? That being said, fries are not a condiment. They go next to the sandwich, not on it (looking at you, Primanti Bros. of Pittsburgh).

Toum, though. Seriously.

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