Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Shawarma Without the Politics

      What a beautiful summer.  Things around the Ponderosa are progressing with clean up, move back in, and settling back in to our 'home lifestyle'.  It inspires me to further explore new cuisines.  I have always wanted to try to prepare Middle Eastern, most notably Lebanese and the dish of Shawarma.  I ate plenty of this during my MANY trips to the Middle East during my USAF career.  This area is known for it's myriad dishes of meat, citrus, legumes, nuts, and assorted vegetables, but always spiced to perfection.  For me this cuisine was a welcome diversion from the many days spent there for reasons above and far beyond the simple folks who live there. Such staples such as lamb, chicken, goat, etc. are usually marinated with a thick mixture containing yogurt for a day and then grilled or roasted.  It is usually served either in a pita type bread or with it on the side with spiced pickles and a garlic dipping sauce.  For this meal we use a recipe from the Livernois Tap in Ferndale, MI using chicken wings.  
      These wings get their tenderness from being marinated in a highly spiced Greek Yogurt.  The key to the flavor is toasting the cumin and black peppercorns to intensify their flavor.  Once marinated they are slowly cooked until tender and finished on the grill to give them a smoky flavor.  I also used Smoked Paprika to accentuate this flavor.

2 dozen wings, cleaned
1 Tblspn cumin
1 tspn black peppercorns
1 Tblspn smoked paprika
1 tspn turmeric
3/4 tspn garlic powder
2 tspn salt
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

      Clean your wings and place them in a large bowl, set aside.   In a small skillet, toast the cumin and black peppercorns over medium heat while constantly stirring.  You should see smoke wisps when toasting.  Remove these and put on a plate to cool.  Once cool, grind these spices to a powder with a mortar and pestle.  Place in bowl and mix with the smoked paprika, turmeric, garlic powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Reserve 2 Tblspn.

Mix the remaining spices with the Greek yogurt.  Add the spiced yogurt mixture to the chicken and toss to coat evenly.  Marinate chicken in refrigerator for 12-24 hours

     When ready to cook, preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a sided baking sheet.  Cover tightly with foil, sealing edges.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the chicken wings are very tender and cooked through.  Heat grill, sprinkle wings with reserved spices and grill for 6-7 minutes or until grill marks present.  Serve hot with Tzatziki, rice, Tajine seasoned cukes, or spiced pickles.  Although this recipe used chicken wings, I served pita and tzatziki sauce on the side if the desire rises to make either a sandwich or eat them like wings with a pita side.  Either way it is delicious.

" Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out from the inside"
Lebanese Proverb

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