Trader Joe’s New Zealand Butter


Another excellent premium butter

Trader Joe’s now carries three premium imported butters. They have a French butter, an Irish butter and just recently I saw this one, from New Zealand no less. Now New Zealand is pretty famous for its food products. I happen to love the New Zealand extra sharp cheddar cheese that TJ carries, it’s really terrific. So I wanted to try this butter. When I first opened the package I was struck at the deep yellow color this had (it may be hard for the actual color come through in a picture). Trader Joe’s says on the package that “it’s made for us on the South Island of New Zealand from from grass fed cows”. Something like this I imagine?

Cattle graze in front of New Zealand, North Island, Mount Taranaki Credit: Getty

Boy that looks pretty nice, so maybe those cows are really content. When I tasted this butter I was impressed. It’s very gently salted and has a lovely sweet flavor and aroma. The color is beautiful. It was delicious when I spread some on some warm bread. Wonderful when I put it on pancakes the next morning. Wonderful later when I made an omelet. This is a truly excellent premium butter. I liked this butter, frankly as much as I liked all 3 premium imported butter TJ carries which are all excellent in their own rights. I have tried tasting one then another and I can’t put one higher, they are each amazing in their own rights, and make you think “now this is what butter should taste like”. If you were impressed by the French Cultured butter or the Kerrygold Irish butter TJ sells, you will no doubt be also impressed by this New Zealand butter.

Of course imported butter costs more than TJ’s regular butter, about double. This Kiwi one is a wee bit cheaper than the French and Irish ones. The NZ butter costs $3.29 for an 8 oz package. I never used to buy imported butter but thanks to Trader Joe’s prices I now buy two kinds for our fridge. Regular (good) butter for most uses, plus a pack of one of the imported “great” butters to have for when you want something extra special. If I can save a little bit on an imported butter, thats great so this New Zealand butter will probably be on my shopping list from now on.

RAVE

Mustard and Ale Cheddar Cheese


Trader Joe’s “British Mustard and Ale Cheddar”? Hmmm…Sounds a bit intriguing, no? Comes in a small package, only 5 ounces and kind of cheap, it was well under two bucks. Now I have to say I’m not usually one who is too into cheeses with added “flavors”. Still on rare occasion you do come across a quite decent cheese with something added to the cheese that works quite well. An example are some Dutch Gouda’s that have cumin or caraway seeds in them. I’ve tried some that are really delicious. I didn’t know what to expect from a Mustard and Ale Cheddar. I love mustard with cheese of course especially cheddar. So I got some of this mustard and ale cheese to taste, and frankly thought well it’s OK, its got a lot of whole mustard seeds in there which are a little strong, maybe over-shadowing the cheddar. I couldn’t put my finger on the “ale” part really. So I think, it’s OK but would I buy more, no, not really, I’d rather buy a jar of TJ’s excellent Whole Grain Dijon Mustard and some Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar or New Zealand Extra Sharp Cheddar and use some mustard as I see fit. But here’s the funny part. During this evaluation, I tasted a piece, then tasted another. Just one more bite…. ok one more… and soon I realized during this tasting I had eaten about half the package. It was hard for me to stop tasting this cheese! Maybe I liked it more than I though? So if the combination sounds appealing to you, you may want to give this a try and see what you think.

TIP While we are at it, if you want a great melted cheese sandwich, try spreading that TJ whole grain Dijon on some nice bread before you add your cheese. Grill it up with butter. When all the elements melt together its pretty great. So I figure this cheese might make a very good melted cheese sandwich too. If anyone tries that let us know if its any good like that. So its a bit odd, but this cheese may be worth trying. If you put it out on a cheese plate, folks might even ask where you got this stuff.

Trader Joe’s Harissa Chicken Thighs


By now you’ve probably heard of TJ’s Shawarma Chicken Thighs which are very good and a big hit. I gave them a big thumbs up, and from what I can gather checking the internet, everyone seems to agree that they’re great. TJ later came out with other marinated chicken thigh flavors. They have three versions now, they added a “HARISSA” version and a “LEMON & HERB” one. I decided to give the HARISSA flavored chicken thighs a try. These are a bit trickier for me. Unlike the SHAWARMA version which I buy pretty regularly now, I don’t think I would buy the HARISSA version again, though I did make a great Chicken and Rice dish using them. Some bloggers seem to like the Harissa version while many others don’t. Not a clear cut winner, so you may have to try and decide for yourself if you are interested. As for me, these Harissa things are nowhere near as good as the Shawarma ones. 

Now after some careful label checking, I think I figured out one major “problem” with these after I looked closely at the two packages. Here’s one big difference between the Shawarma and Harissa versions: the liquid content.

The label on the Harissa Flavored Chicken Thighs says “Contains up to 28% Solution….”

The Shwarma Chicken Thighs however say “Contains up to 7% Solution…”

A-ha, right? The “Harissa flavored” version has a much “wetter” marinade that the Shawarma version and this wetter marinade (i.e., more water) means they would absorb more liquid as weight into the meat sitting in this package. To me 1/4+ of the weight of a package of chicken being marinade seems massive. So one thing I found with these compared to the Shawarma thighs is it was harder to get a good sear going quickly when I threw them into a hot cast iron pan, as with the Shawarma thighs. Which frankly makes sense considering a much higher liquid content, and that fact is not in the Plus Column. Another bugging point to me was, why would tomato paste be the first ingredient in a “Harissa” marinade? Tomato paste is present in harissa, but its a minor player, the primary ingredient being fresh or dried red chiles.

These also didn’t have anywhere near as a distinctive flavor as the Shwarma version. So all in all, these are “just OK” for me. Personally I wouldn’t buy them again (unless I was making an Arroz con Pollo, for which these worked well). Frankly my suggestion is, if you really want to make some “Harissa Chicken” — just buy some boneless chicken at TJ, buy a jar of TJ’s Harissa ($2.70) and marinate it with lots of harissa smeared all over the thighs (or breast) for a 1/2 hour or so. I bet it would be delicious and work way better than these. Boneless skinless organic thighs I think are 2.99 a pound. These Harissa chicken flavored thighs sell for $4.99 a pound. 

PS – If I remember correctly when I looked at the label, the “LEMON & HERB” marinated thighs have an even higher “contains up to XXX % solution” content (50% or more?) You are paying chicken prices for lemon juice!

So these are not terrible but not great. RATED AS “MEH” – UNLESS DOING AN ARROZ CON POLLO which did turn out great with rich tomato-y rice (and if you want a basic recipe idea leave a Comment)

Trader Joe’s OAT BEVERAGE (OAT MILK)


oatmilk1

Trader Joe’s OAT BEVERAGE

Now I do still drink regular milk, which I prefer in my coffee and tea. However I have been trying to cut down on the amount of real (whole) milk I use on a daily basis, as I try to watch my cholesterol. Mostly now I use real milk to make my morning cappuccino and for putting in my tea.  But for some other uses where I formerly might have chosen real milk such as on my morning breakfast cereal, I’ve gotten pretty used to trying alternatives such Soy or Almond Milk. Having tried almost all the non-milk beverage alternatives, I saw this non-refrigerated “oat milk” beverage at Trader Joe’s when it was first introduced a few months back. TJ’s seemed to have it in many places all over the store to push its introduction. I tried it and guess what? I loved it. Its terrific! I really think this is a good “milk alternative beverage”, maybe for me it may be the best of all the alternative milk products, beating out soy milk and nut milks.

I also like that when you look at the label of you only see TWO INGREDIENTS – WATER and (hydolyzed) OATS. That’s it. At least in the shelf stable pack. The refrigerated one interestingly has more ingredients.

TJ’s OAT BEVERAGE has a creamy smooth taste with a subtle milky sweetness which is very pleasing. Basically this oat milk has taken the place for “other milk” I buy now, even over the almond stuff.

The label says: “who knew that oats and water could be mildly sweet“? Instead of adding cane sugar as an ingredient, we unearth the balanced sweetness by breaking down the starches present in oats to create sugar. The sugars created bring out a whole new flavor dimension. A smooth, creamy, mildly sweet and totally amazing beverage”

Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

Basically this oat milk has taken the place for “other milk” I buy now, even over the almond stuff. A quart of the shelf stable Oat Beverage is $2.29. It’s very convenient to always have one in your cupboard.
Oh and by the way, as far as dairy farmers are concerned nothing except what comes out of a cow should be called “milk” and I totally support dairy farmers as if we lose more numbers of them, we are screwed.

RAVE

Everything But The Elote Seasoning Blend



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Here’s another nice addition to Trader Joe’s seasoning blends, in a similar vein obviously to their very popular “Everything but the bagel” seasoning (which is excellent btw, and something I will review in future).

Well “everything but the bagel” is pretty obvious to most people but “everything but the elote” maybe not quite as well known, at least in America. So what is “Elote” anyway that this is “everything but”? Elote is a very popular street food found all over Mexico, which is hot corn on the cob, adorned with mayonnaise, cheese, chile powder, lime juice…. Trust me if you’ve never tried it, it’s quite delicious. The elote vendor takes an ear of corn, which he then sprinkles with lime, spreads mexican crema or mayonnaise over it, sprinkles it with a tons of grated cotija cheese, chile powder and maybe hot sauce. The combined flavors will send you to heaven.

Here’s a video I found on Youtube of a Elote vendor in Oaxaca prepping one for a customer in a jiffy with all the works. Watch how fast this guy is!
 

 
Don’t you wish we had smellovision?

Trader Joe’s did a good job of capturing all these flavors into this seasoning, which is so good this stuff has quickly capturing been the internet by storm. It gives you the cheese-sy smell, sweet and spicy flavor profile of Elote. Ingredients include cheese, cumin, chile, salt, sugar, chipotle… Very yummy stuff.

While I intend to of course try it on fresh corn this summer when corn is available in season, you can use this seasoning in lots of ways besides on corn, as yummy as that will be! You can sprinkle this on all kinds of veggies or meats. I tried it out on some boneless chicken breasts for dinner, I hit them with olive oil and a good amount of the Elote powder all over them, let them marinate for 10 minutes or so, before grilling them in a hot cast iron pan (recipe below). The chicken turned out fantastic with a super flavor. I also tried it out just mixing some of the blend into greek yogurt, which made an instant delicious dip or sauce and tried that on tortilla chips and that too was super Yummy. Hey you can put that yogurt sauce on top of the chicken (or what have you)!

Trader Joe’s has a number of “elote” products now.
A jar of this is $2.49. I hear its flying off the shelves. It’s very worth trying if you like spicy, cheesy, delicious stuff.

https://www.traderjoes.com/digin/post/everything-but-the-elote-seasoning-blend

Here by the way is my patented greatest method to cook boneless breasts of chicken so they come out juicy, not dry. The seasoning can be almost anything you can think of.

Prep your chicken breasts. Season them. Put them in a very hot black cast iron pan, or non-stick pan with some olive oil, or oil and butter. Grill on one side for about 3-4 minutes till nice and brown, then turn them over and grill for 1-2 minutes. Then turn off the heat and cover the pan. This is the secret. Let them rest without peeking for about 5 minutes. The breasts will continue to cook through but not over cook and dry out. There will be juice in the pan which you can pour over the chicken breasts when you serve them or serve these pan juices on the side. You can also mix the pan juices with some greek yogurt, or any sauce you care for. Everyone will tell you how juicy the chicken is.

Try this recipe with a good amount of the elote seasoning blend, or everything but the bagel or your own. 

Just in case you didn’t get enough, here’s another “elotero”in action ; making it a lot slower so you can check out all the additions (god, he puts crema and tons of mayo!) … cheese made from goat and cow…homemade red chile paste…. All for just around $1.

 

 

Trader Joe’s WINTER WAKE UP TEA


So let me just start off with the comment that I really like this tea but frankly found the name a wee bit misleading. When I saw the words “Wake Up Tea”, I just assumed this will make a cup of strong, dark, kick-ass, rocket fuel (English/Irish) tea… A dark cuppa that really wakes you up in the morning. But when I brewed up a cup as you can see in the picture its not a very dark super strong tea. However when I tasted it I thought, oh this quite good! So I really like this tea but my take is kind of Trader Joe’s should have come up with a different name minus “wake up”. “Winter Wake Up Tea” is probably not something I would brew to wake me up in the morning. But other than that comment, Trader Joe’s has come up with an EXCELLENT TEA BLEND with great spice flavors that would satisfy me at any time of day, and makes me feel all nice and warm and cozy!

TJ’s Winter Wake Up Tea is a wonderfully balanced tasty spiced tea, a blend of black tea, cinnamon, orange peel, ginger and cloves. If it was called something a bit different without “wake up” in the name, I would have simply started the review with “A most wonderful spiced tea that will make you feel warm and toasty on a cold snowy winter’s eve, and will warm your heart and soul! Drink it in front of the fireplace and just relax….” Personally Mr. Joe, I would have named it something like, say… WINTER COZY TEA. or WINTER SPICE BLEND TEA* or something like that.

Brew this up and you get a very nice spiced tea that reminds me slightly of CONSTANT COMMENT tea – a famous spiced tea blend created back in 1945. My parents always had it in our cupboard, especially making an appearance when “company” came over, as it was kind of special and would get a “yum… whats this tea?” comment from our guests. Ah the good old days! This TJ tea make a lighter cup than Constant Comment, with less black tea prominent in the blend but probably more spices such as cinnamon, ginger, plus clove and orange peel. It even is has the slightest bit of sweetness naturally as an under-note from a bit of licorice, which possesses natural sweetness.

So will this wake you up like the Irish Breakfast tea which actually is a “wake up tea”? Myself, to wake up I need a strong cuppa like TJ’s excellent Irish Breakfast Tea, or a typical English tea like Typhoo Tea or the like. But still enjoy this Winter Tea for what it is – a quite lovely spiced tea full of flavor.

Aha, methinks, I’ve a great idea! What if I combined the two teas together?! I brewed both teas up together, and very much liked the resulting concoction. If you do you want something a bit darker and stronger but with lots of nice spice flavors, just take 2 cups of water, bring to a boil in a pot, and toss in a bag of this Winter Tea plus a bag of Irish Breakfast Tea. Let it brew for at least 5 minutes. The result is nice mix-up of both, a strong “cuppa” plus lots of warm spices and flavor, not terribly unlike Constant Comment, and which actually now is a Wake Up Tea that will perk you up on a cold winter’s morn.

*So Mr Trader Joe, should you borrow my ideas and rename this product “COZY WINTER TEA” you better at least send me a case of this stuff!

 

 

 

Trader Joe’s JERK-STYLE PLANTAIN CHIPS


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My newest “Love It” item at Trader Joe’s are their new spicy flavored JERK-STYLE PLANTAIN CHIPS.

Warning: SERIOUSLY SPICY (and SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS). No kidding. I mean mouth on fire level SPICY! You’ve been warned. Now taste these, if you dare.

I’ve always loved the regular Plantain Chips. They are one of the best products at Trader Joe’s. Only $1.69. Amazing snacks.

trader-joes-roasted-plantain-chips-6oz-pack-of-6-B005E7AY50-500x500

The Jerk-Style chips are the same delicious plantain chips but with lots of seasonings added to them. I’m talking highly spicy Jamaican Jerk Seasonings. They got that Jerk flavor kind of right on the nose with this spice mix blend:

Each individual Chip is covered in a generous dusting of jerk cooking-inspired herbs and spices, including allspice, garlic powder, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, and ginger extract.

What you’ll likely notice above all other flavors, however, is the increasing heat of spicy red chili pepper powder. As you snack, the spice builds steadily (but not altogether overwhelmingly) to an exhilarating crescendo of heat, making it a perfect treat for the real spice fans out there (you know who you are.)

Try ’em if you can take the heat. Also, try them with some kind of dip to go with these chips (guacamole? hummus? greek yogurt and garlic? Tsastiki?) They were delicious even with just some greek yogurt that I dipped each chip in. The Greek yogurt of course tames down the heat.

Put out a dish full of these chips with some cold beers and I think you will be in heaven. They cost $1.79 a bag.

Buy both kinds of these chips, regular and the Jerk-Style. These spicy ones are for when you want your mouth to tingle with some major, spicy Jerk spices.

https://www.traderjoes.com/digin/post/jerkstyle-plantain-chips

TJ’s Amba Mango Sauce


Trader Joe’s Amba Mango sauce is a unique and very tasty condiment.

I had vaguely heard of “Amba” as an Israeli condiment for “Sabich” (eggplant sandwich). Amba Sauce is one of those new tasty food products that TJ sells that you may not know what it is at first, nor what you would use it for, but give this wonderfully unique tasting stuff a try. Savory, pungent, tangy, the sauce is made from fermented ripe as well as green mangos simmered with garlic, salt, turmeric and a few other spices, blended into a smooth sauce. Amba is so unique, intruiging and tasty that once once you try it, you will end up dreaming of things you might try it with, “I wonder if this would be good on..(fill in blank).” Thats what I did. I kept putting it on things to see if they would be good with it. Many were!

So what is “Amba Sauce” anyway? From the package: “Amba is a fermented mango sauce traditionally found in Israel  India and the Middle East. Use it as a savory sauce on meat and seafood, vegetables and falafel, or even as a unique salad dressing”.

“Amba” means mango in an Indian language, Marathi. Its made of yellow ripe mangos as well as unripe green mangos, pureed till smooth and cooked with many spices and chilis and is fermented. The fermentation I’m sure ratchets up the taste level. It is both sweet, sour, and spicy. The heat comes and hits you later. Much later. This stuff is a very complex flavor bomb of fruity and spicy and many spices. Get the idea? Its great for many things. Just a few ideas: Try it over cooked chicken. Falafel, of course! Salmon. Meats. Salads and bowls. On the side with Indian pakoras, or breads, or basmati rice? Absolutely of course! Mixed with Greek Yogurt*? Yes! I came up with the idea of mixing these two things and it was amazing together as the yogurt calmed down the spice level and melded things.

AMBA SAUCE is carried in the refrigerated section and comes in a convenient squeeze pouch with a plastic top. A 14-ounce re-closable, pourable yellow bag of Trader Joe’s Amba Mango Sauce is $3.29. A bag lasted me quite some time as a little goes a long way, and it can last for a month or two in the fridge. This is a fantastic TJ product well worth the price. Amba is hard to find in the U.S.

Here’s a super easy tasty sauce mix with Amba I came up with; it makes a smooth, creamy yummy sauce, toning down the spice level but still getting some and you can adjust the ratio of amba to yogurt.

*GREEK YOGURT & AMBA SAUCE

Mix about 1/2 cup of plain Greek Yogurt with about a 1/3-1/2 cup of Amba Sauce. Add chopped garlic mashed with a little salt. Fresh ground pepper. Stir to combine and let it sit in the fridge for a bit. For a GREEN SAUCE version of this which I made, just add chopped parsley or arugula or baby kale, chopped very finely. Let flavors meld in fridge for at least a 1/2 hr or more. Serve on fish, chicken, meats, grilled tofu, or over basmati or jasmine rice, or practically anything! Adjust the ratio of amba and yogurt to your exact liking.

 

TJ FEARLESS FLYER INFO ON AMBA SAUCE (CLICK)

Trader Joe’s ZHOUG SAUCE (SPICY!!!!)


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Trader Joe’s ZHOUG SAUCE is a deliciously spicy traditional Yemeni / Middle Eastern / Israeli green hot sauce. When they describe it on the package as “very spicy” in this case TJ’s is not kidding! I repeat, this is “VERY SPICY” as in, practically knock-your-socks-off level spicy. So if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen –  however you can “tame” it a bit easily as I mention later.

Green, herbal from cilantro, spicy from jalapeno and red chile flakes, wonderfully seasoned with garlic, cumin and cardamon, this stuff is simply one of the the most bloody wonderful and unique condiments you may ever taste. I’ve put it on just about everything you can think of…chicken, tofu, eggs, fritattas, pasta, fish…. you name it. You can’t go wrong with this on just about anything you put it on, it will make you smack your lips, oh yeah, yum, oh wow. I suspect it would be good on shoe leather.

You will probably use this in small amounts, just a few dashes, as its so spicy, a little goes a long way, especially as-is out of the box. Frankly this was even a bit too spicy even for me, kind of a rare statement. So unless you are a total chile-head, capsaicin obsessed, death-head sauce freak, you might even want to “tame” this sauce a tiny bit, as I tried and did easily. I just added some olive oil and lemon juice to cut down the heat ever so slightly by volume dilution. It was still excellent this way. I also use it mixed into greek yogurt (or regular yogurt) with great success. Yogurt and Zhoug are a good combo and make a wonderful, easy creamy green Zhough variation. Adjust the ratio of yogurt to zhoug till its perfect for your personal taste. I actually like the Zhoug tamed a wee bit as I can use it more generously. As is out of the container just a few small dollops is enough to make your mouth on fire. Again if you’re a chile-head,  you will love it, pour it on.

You will find TJ’s ZHOUG SAUCE in the refrigerated section, in an 8 oz container which is $3.00. Frankly this is a steal (but don’t tell TJ’s lest they raise the price) Seriously you should try this. Its a Top-10 TJ product IMO.

ZHOUG matches wonderfully with some grilled SHWARMA CHICKEN!

And if you want to try your hand at making ZHOUG yourself here’s a DIY recipe for it I found online

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/diy-trader-joes-zhoug-sauce_n_5b96758ce4b0511db3e480d0

Trader Joe’s SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS


 

Trader Joe’s SHAWARMA SEASONING BONELESS & SKINLESS CHICKEN THIGHS

It’s rare that I buy meat or chicken that’s comes already marinated in a package. I normally make any marinade or seasoning I would want myself. But I saw this package of “Shawarma Chicken Thighs” at Trader Joe’s and that sounded a little intriguing to me… ‘cuz I love me some good Shawarma! So I got a package for review. 

The short answer is I liked these a lot, way more than I expected to. The bigger answer is I have bought them a few times since. 

TJ’s SHAWARMA CHICKEN THIGHS are deliciously tasty, easy, and very convenient to have in your fridge, as they can stay for a week or more in the unopened package. For convenience’s sake, these are just dandy. Just open the package and throw them in a pan. 

First thing to know, removing the chicken is a bit messy, so be warned. First I used scissors to open the bag, then tongs to pull the chicken out of the bag. Sure you can do it with your fingers but don’t be surprised if they get a bit stained from the annatto and turmeric, as will your cutting board. Pulling the chicken out, you’ll immediately smell the nice spices. Simply blot the chicken a wee bit with a paper towel, and toss them in a hot cast iron or non-stick pan. Other ways to cook them? Under the broiler or on a grill, or bake them in the oven. I think these would work very well to make a great Sheet Pan Supper baked with some veggies. Grilled in a pan or broiled…these thighs can be ready in 15-20 minutes with almost no work.

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… So. Really. Easy. If you have the option to grill these on a real grill, with wood or charcoal or course that would be even better I’m sure.

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 if thats your bag (fresh garlic, some more cumin, or something with a kick?) I frequently always add more spices, such as more ground cumin, a dash of Spanish smoked paprika, and especially fresh garlic. These aren’t 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 pan (onions,  carrots, cherry tomatoes…) and cook those up too of course.

When the chicken is cooked to your liking, take them out of the pan, and rest them for about 5 minutes or so, before slicing them up to keep them nice and juicy – and save any nice juices of course and pour over when you serve them. It wouldn’t hurt to hit them with some fresh lemon or lime. A pat of butter is heavenly. They don’t need it but its a nice touch. I could have used a tiny bit less Sodium which is listed a wee bit high in the Sodium count on the package. Still they were not salty especially served with other food, and as I served the chicken over some basmati rice. As mentioned I found these go great with TJs’ “ZHOUG” Yemeni green hot cilantro sauce, which is quite spicy. It matched very well with those Middle East spices. Or even just some greek yogurt and lemon is a nice sauce. Greek Yogurt and Zhough mixed together is wonderful in the ratio of your choosing (spicy or just a little). Chopped fresh cilantro goes great with these if you like it, or just some 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 (link)

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. A bit of YEMENI ZHOUG SAUCE if you can handle the spice! (TIP: You can soften it up mixing with greek yogurt) Wrap it up and you have a 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.

BTW here’s an excellent recipe for a White (Yoghurt) Sauce for Shawarma:

The Best Ever Shawarma White Sauce

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

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(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!)

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