Mouthfools Chicken Shawarmas
If we had a food truck, this is what we would sling. If we had a restaurant, this is what would be on the menu. If there is a single recipe I would call my own, it is this one. Here’s the story…
Back in the early 90s, a young Mr. Mouthfools spent a year in Saudi Arabia. My dad got a job there and so my family crossed the ocean to live in the capital of Saudi, Riyadh. It was there I was introduced to the chicken shawarma. Now, some of you may feel you already know what this is, or maybe you’ve even tried one, however that is unlikely. See, that would be like saying you’ve had a cheeseburger before, so you already know what a Big Mac tastes like. Or that you’ve had pizza before, so you know what Chicago-style pizza tastes like. This is a very specific variety of shawarma, that I’ve never yet found prepared in this way by anyone selling what they call shawarmas.
Upon my return to the states, my mom developed a recipe for making them at home, without access to the necessary ingredients and equipment, and it is from this recipe I have continued to evolve and experiment with over the years. This is where the recipe is at right now, and each detail is very important, however seemingly small a detail it may be.
1-2 pounds chicken (preferably a mix of both white and dark meat, like say 4 thighs and 2 breasts)
1 bulb fresh garlic (this recipe is heavy on the garlic and a garlic press works wonders)
1 medium white or yellow onion (diced)
1 bag frozen shoestring french fries (or if you really want to nail this, fresh McDonald’s fries)
Diced crunchy dill pickles (spicy dill is better, spicy garlic dill is even better yet)
Mayo (don’t you dare try to substitute Miracle Whip)
Your choice of wrap (I recommend fajita style flour tortillas, or Flatout brand flat bread)
Tabasco sauce (it must be Tabasco brand – it was even Tabasco in Riyadh)
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1) Preheat oven to temp for whatever fries you are using.
2) In a skillet pan set on medium heat, drizzle some olive oil and cook up your chicken. I like to either use cubed chicken if raw, or shredded chicken if using leftovers.
3) When chicken is about halfway cooked through, add diced onion, 4-6 cloves of crushed garlic, and about 2 tablespoons of butter. Add salt and pepper towards the end.
4) When chicken is cooked to the point of beginning to shred apart naturally, lower temp to low.
5) Prepare fries according to directions. This usually takes around 10 minutes. If you’re just going to use McDonald’s fries, congratulations on being awesome and skipping this step.
6) Add half a cup of mayo to a bowl. Stir in 1-2 cloves crushed garlic.
7) To prepare shawarmas, cover your flatbread or tortilla with a solid layer of garlic mayo.
8) Add the chicken filling in a thick line down the center like you would a burrito.
9) Top with hot french fries and chopped pickles.
10) Liberally cover everything with Tabasco sauce.
11) Roll up and pretend you’re in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
12) Prepare to cry tears of joy.