Freezer Meals: Instant Shawarma

As we continue settling in at our new apartment, one thing I’ve really missed is a full freezer. I usually keep a good variety of stews, soups, and other slow-cooked mains and sides on hand, because they’re easy to defrost and pair with a carb of choice on a weeknight, but sometimes a lady just wants to grill. We’re still close enough to our preferred neighborhood butcher shop, so this week S made a run to restock the meat and now I finally feel like we’re on the right track!

We keep our steaks pretty simple, but I’ve become a big fan of freezer marinades for chicken breasts, which we get boneless and butterflied. The recipe below is adapted from Sam Sifton’s simple preparation and never fails to deliver quick, easy flavor on a weeknight. I often double or triple it with equal success.

Chicken Shawarma
Just off the grill (pan).

Yield: 4 servings

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. half-sharp paprika
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 boneless, butterflied chicken breasts

Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil, then add the garlic and the spices. I like to grate garlic on my Microplane when I’m using it in a marinade; it really helps to get a good, even coating. Blend the marinade well.

Put each chicken breast in a gallon-size freezer bag. Distribute the marinade between the two bags, then press all the air out and seal. Smush the chicken and the marinade around a bit to get a good coating, then lay the bags flat in the freezer. (See more about flat freezing on this page.)

Triple stacks of chicken shawarma ready for the freezer

After defrosting (either in the fridge overnight or under cool running water for about 15 minutes), the chicken will be perfectly marinated and ready to grill! We use a Lodge square grill pan, but if your stove has a ridged griddle cover that works as well. Get the pan very hot, then turn down to medium and grill about 7 minutes a side. Let rest 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

Serving suggestions: Ratatouille and cucumber-dill salad (below).

Chicken Shawarma
Chicken shawarma with ratatouille and cucumber dill salad
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