Trader Joe’s SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS


Trader Joe’s SHAWARMA SEASONING BONELESS & SKINLESS CHICKEN THIGHS

It’s pretty rare I buy meat that comes already marinated in a package, as I would normally make any marinade myself. But when I saw this package of “Shawarma Chicken Thighs” it sounded a little intriguing, ‘cuz I love me some good Shawarma! So I thought I would try it out. In short I liked this a lot, more than I expected to.

In fact I have bought this again and again. TJ’s SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are very tasty and super easy plus really convenient to have in your fridge as they can stay for a week or more in the unopened package. So for convenience’s sake, I have found these are dandy, you can just open the package, throw them in a pan and you have dinner, with a few sides. 

Opening the package, you’ll immediately smell all the nice spices. Be warned first off, getting the chicken out of the bag can be a bit messy. First, I used scissors to open it, then I used tongs to pull out the meat. Sure you can do it with your bare hands but don’t be surprised if it gets stained yellow/red from the annatto and turmeric, as will your cutting board (wipe quickly after with diluted bleach to get rid of stains). You could just dump the whole thing in a bowl of course. You can blot the chicken a wee bit with a paper towel (optional then toss them in a hot cast iron or non-stick pan. Cooked in a pan, broiled, or put on a grill…these thighs can be ready in 15-20 minutes with little work. Baking them: I think cooking in the oven would work very well and you could make a great Sheet Pan Supper baked along with veggies, a easy one dish supper.

TIP: You can put some shallow slashes in the thicker parts of the thighs to help them cook more evenly (I even put slices of garlic in the slashes at times… extra fresh garlic never hurts)

I grilled the thighs in a medium hot pan as suggested for about 7-8 minutes per side. I used a black cast iron pan with a teaspoon of olive oil added first. I let them cook without touching or moving them (important!) till they had a very good sear and were a deep golden brown on the bottom. Flip them over and cook for about another 7-8 minutes or so. So in as little as 15 minutes from package till plate, you have can dinner ready, with some sides, say basmati rice of instance. If you have the option to grill these on a real grill, with wood or charcoal or course they would probably be terrific. Our kitchen smelled wonderful while I was cooking these from all those nice “Shawarma” spices.

The “shwarma seasoning” spices they use are typical Middle Eastern spices. TJ states “…Onion, garlic, sea salt, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, turmeric, and parsley.” Of course you could add even more spices (fresh garlic, more cumin, or something spicy…) I frequently add more spices, like more ground cumin, a dash of Spanish smoked paprika, and especially fresh garlic. The marinade is not spicy so if you want some heat just add some of your choosing. TJ’s Zhough Green sauce goes especially good with these, with a bit brushed on at the very end, and/or on the side after cooking. You can throw veggies in the same pan (onions, carrots, cherry tomatoes…) and cook those up too of course.

What about cooking under the broiler? Toss them in a bowl, throw in a few spoons of yogurt, add some olive oil (or melted butter). Broil under a medium heat and get a nice brown on them. I saw they gave up lots of juice this way, so I kind of like my stove top grill pan method.

When the chicken is cooked to your liking, take the thighs out of the pan and rest them about 5 minutes before slicing. This will keep them juicy, and of course save any lovely juices when you slice them. It wouldn’t hurt to hit them with some fresh lemon or lime. Even a pat of butter is nice. I could have used a tiny bit less Sodium which is listed a wee bit high in the Sodium count on the package, but they were not salty especially served with other food. As mentioned, I found these go great with TJs’ “ZHOUG” Yemeni green hot cilantro sauce, which is quite spicy, and matches well with Middle East spices. Or, even just some greek yogurt and lemon mixed is a nice sauce. Or Greek Yogurt and Zhough mixed together in a ratio of your choosing (spicy or just a little). Chopped fresh cilantro goes great with these if you like it, or fresh parsley. You can slice up the chicken and plate with the juices. The nice thing about chicken thighs as opposed to chicken breasts are thighs are much more forgiving. Thighs stay juicy almost no matter what, and are almost impossible to overcook unless you really try hard, unlike boneless chicken breasts which are so easy to overcook so they are dry (mine? never! In a future post, I promise to tell my cooking technique for juicy soft boneless chicken breasts –) DONE: here it is (juicy chicken breasts)

Here’s one we made with the Shawarma chicken, served on TJ’s Garlic Naan with the Tzaziki sauce. Delish!!

How to serve the chicken? Any way you wish of course but a great way would be to make this into chicken SHAWARMA wraps of course. Slice up the chicken and put some SHAWARMA Style on some a flatbread, warm pita or TANDOORI NAAN (yes!) or the TJ HABANERO LIME TORTILLAS…. add some chopped veggies (tomato, cukes, shredded lettuce, etc) Then add some sauce, a tahini or yogurt garlic sauce (tzaziki). A bit of YEMENI ZHOUG SAUCE if you like spice! (TIP: You can soften up the spice level mixing in greek yogurt) Wrap it all up and you have Chicken Shawarma. A little messy to eat but oh so good. Your family will love them. Rice on the side, or as a bed is great.

TJ’S TZAZIKI SAUCE GETS A BIG THUMBS UP FOR SHWARMA! 

The second dish I made with these chicken thighs were to use them in Chicken Tacos and Fajitas. Despite the slight cultural melange, they were actually terrific as Tacos. Did you know that Lebanese migrants had a big part in Mexican food culture (Tacos Al Pastor)? They did! Some Green Dragon hot sauce with it’s tomatillo base made them quite Mexican on the tacos.

SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are $4.49 a pound*. The 1.5 lb package I bought was just over $6 and I got two meals out of it, with sides, so more than if you just bought chicken but not a bad deal. A package can keep for quite some time in the fridge as they are in a marinade (a few weeks) or freeze them. These are excellent to use as the Chicken part of a dish, say a Chicken and Rice (brown the meat with onions, throw in rice, add broth…) I made an Arroz Con Pollo with these and it was terrific!

In sum the SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are a really good Trader Joe’s product and well worth trying. Would I buy them again? Absolutely, I have regularly. These are a TJ hit. Of course, you are paying a bit for the spices and packaging ($1 a pound?) So if you want to save a little money, naturally just buy chicken thighs and add some middle eastern style spices for a marinade on your own. 

(LINK) TJ’s INFO PAGE FOR SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS

  • UPDATE 1- Price increased since I first wrote this to $4.79/lb. (Jan 2021)
  • UPDATE 2 – TJ now sells two other varieties of marinated thighs: HARISSA and LEMON & HERBS (I think the other versions are  not as good as the SHAWARMA one; ‘cuz they are too wet)

RAVE

(LINK) Here’s A Recipe I found on TJ’s site with these for Shawarma Chicken Rice Soup

THIS IS WHAT A REAL CHICKEN SHWARMA LOOKS LIKE COOKING ON A HUGE ROTATING SPIT…AND SLICED OFF….(if you ever get the chance, try it!)

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Trader Joe’s ZHOUG SAUCE (SPICY!!!!) | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves!)
  2. Trackback: Trader Joe’s Harissa Chicken Thighs | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (Mostly Raves with a few rants!)
  3. Trackback: TJ’s Tzatziki Sauce | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (Mostly Raves with a few rants!)

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