29 October 2015

The comfort of your own oven

I come across many online food "listicles" that read something like: "15 non-boring one-pan chicken dinners in 30 minutes or less." These lists often imply that 1.) chicken is boring and in need of serious jazzing up 2.) It's realistic to make everything in one pan 3.) you're capable of standing over said pan, flipping, watching, multitasking and finally plopping everything on the table in that same pan in a great rush like a Hibachi chef before a posse of grabbing hands. I'd suspect that not all of us are at our best under these circumstances. I'm typically too slow for it. There's a time and place for seared chicken cutlets, but I've been turning on my oven a lot more lately for chicken thighs. 

We love bone-in, skin-on thighs around here, and I have a treatment for them I'll share as it gets colder, but this particular recipe utilizes something a little more at the ready: boneless, skinless thighs (I like Bell&Evans). It's an oven-roasted chicken shawarma situation from Sam Sifton of the New York Times and here's how it goes. A pound (he used 2 lbs and double the marinade) of b/s thighs get bathed in a lemony olive oil paprika-turmeric-cumin slurry, pungent with garlic, for a few hours and then roasted with a red onion for a decent stint, in a hot oven. This is mimicking what you'd be going for at a Turkish rotisserie grill house type scenario, only in the comfort of your own oven, and I think the technique works really nicely. 

While it cooks, you'll assemble everything else that makes this type of main dish the finger-licking crowd-pleaser that it is: the fixings. I like it over a bed of brown basmati rice with olives, a tomato-pepper-feta-cucumber salad, perhaps some red cabbage slaw and of course, salted yogurt-lemon sauce. The kind of last-minute rushing around associated with sautéed chicken that's advertised as being quick and easy, is not usually what I find easiest. It's the things like this-- that, once the prep is done, do the work for me. That means the only people rushing to the table when you make this will be those who smell it cooking. 

Sam Sifton's Oven Shawarma
tweaked from NYT Cooking

Juice of one lemon (2 Tbsp)
1/4 cup olive oil (plus a teaspoon or so for greasing the pan)
3 gloves garlic, peeled, and pressed or grated
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt + more to taste
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch red pepper flakes
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, left whole but trimmed of some fat if applicable
1 small red onion, quartered, or half a large, halved
Fresh parsley, chopped

1. Marinate chicken: combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, turmeric and pinch pepper flakes and whisk well. Place chicken thighs in resealable bag and pour marinade over, squeezing lightly from outside to ensure it's well-coated. Refrigerate 1-12 hours. (I've usually done about 4-5)

2. Preheat oven to 425 and grease shallow rimmed baking sheet. Toss the onion with the chicken in the bag and smush to coat, then pour mixture onto the sheet pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with a little more salt and roast 30-40 minutes, until chicken is nicely browned and cooked through. Let rest a few minutes, then slice the chicken and spread everything on a platter with your desired fixings. For a yogurt sauce simply salt to taste a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt thinned with a little lemon juice and some cayenne if you have it.

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