Have you tried shawarma?

I’m a cooking-show junkie, and one of my favorites is Beat Bobby Flay. Recently, I watched an episode where Bobby competed against Gail Arnold, one of his early mentors who is also Steven Spielberg’s personal chef! This particular episode was particularly epic, since the celebrity judges were none other than Neil Patrick Harris (NPH!) and Ina Garten!

But back to the shawarma, I had never heard of shawarma before but my impression of it based upon things I am familiar with is that it’s a Middle Eastern/Israeli dish that’s similar to a gyro or doner kebab. Chef Arnold was doing a marinade/spice mixture using yogurt which really got my attention. I took a few notes, which I will often do while I watch shows like this, and set off to scour Pinterest for recipe ideas. I ended up finding several & putting my own spin based on what I had seen Chef Arnold do and what my flavor preferences are. 

I guess you could say we were “eating like the Spielbergs” the night we had this. Or like Iron Man, since my son informed me that he had heard of shawarma because it was mentioned by Tony Stark in the new Captain America movie. Either way, I marinated a ton of chicken & we were eating shawarma for days. I may have even eaten shawarma with a fried egg in it for breakfast one day… #putaneggonit

Stark’s Shawarma


  • 12 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 C plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Kosher salt & black pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • dried chili flakes (optional)

For wraps:

  • diced cucumbers
  • diced tomatoes
  • sliced red onion
  • hummus
  • pita bread 


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, spices, and lemon juice. Mix well.
  2. Put the chicken thighs into 2 1-gallon plastic bags, 6 in each. 
  3. Put 1C of marinade into each bag. Seal bag & shake it around, making sure to massage the marinade into all the chicken. 
  4. Marinate 1-4 hours in the refrigerator, or ideally, overnight. 
  5. Preheat oven to 425F. 
  6. Spread chicken thighs in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Season with Kosher salt & pepper, and chili flakes, if desired. 
  7. Bake for 45 mins. For extra crispness, put on the broiler for the last 5 mins of cook time. 
  8. When cooled slightly, slice the chicken into strips. 
  9. Strips of roasted chicken can be rolled into a wrap with desired toppings, or added to a salad. I set up a shawarma bar, so that each person could add the toppings of their choice according to their own tastes. 

Lunch salad with some leftover shawarma chicken on top!

Using the pickle juice…

My recent dabbling in pickling has left me with a small surplus of pickle juice (more stuff in mason jars…) so I decided to use it to marinate some more chicken. Another use for pickle juice, I’m told is to mix it with vodka & make a Pickle Juice Martini of sorts.

Pickle Juice Chicken


  • pickle juice (I used both the juice from the Dưa món and from the pickled red onions- link to post above)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


  1. Wash chicken breasts, with cold water, and pat dry.
  2. Put the chicken in a resealable container or freezer bag.
  3. Pour the pickle juice over the chicken, making sure it’s enough to cover.
  4. Cover or seal & marinate, under refrigeration for at least 8 hours.
  5. When ready to cook chicken, preheat oven to 350F.
  6. Place cutlets in glass/ceramic baking dish.
  7. Bake 30-35 mins.

The flavor of the pickle-juice marinated chicken was not dissimilar to that of chicken marinated in bottled Italian dressing (Duh, the vinegar.) but with a bit more heat. It was delicious cold on sandwiches & wraps. I think that battered & fried it would taste a lot like Chic-Fil-A .

Finding uses for those jars of whey…

I’m still trying to use up all the leftover whey from my cheesemaking adventures. Last night I decided to try it as the base of a chicken marinade. Amazing results! I was very happy with how well the flavor of the marinade got into the chicken. This cooked chicken would be a wonderful flavor in a chicken salad!

Whey Marinade with Curry, Cumin, and Turmeric


  • 1 qt jar of whey
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste


  1. Wash chicken breasts in cold water, pat dry.
  2. In a small bowl or a large measuring cup, combine the whey and spices.
  3. Place chicken in a resealable container or freezer bag.
  4. Pour marinade over chicken until covered.
  5. Marinate 12-24 hours under refrigeration.
  6. When ready to cook chicken, preheat oven to 350F.
  7. Place cutlets in glass/ceramic baking dish.
  8. Bake 30-35 mins.