Gourmet Camping Recipe: Chicken Shawarma

Jul 15, 2014 by     5 Comments    Posted under: Camping Recipes, Recipes, Sandwich Recipes
Camping Chicken Shawarma with Middle Eastern Basmati Rice

Camping Chicken Shawarma with Middle Eastern Basmati Rice

Not familiar with Shawarma?  You need to be, especially considering how perfect it is cooked over an open fire in the back country.  Traditional Shawarma is an Arab meat preparation, where lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are placed on a spit (commonly a vertical spit in restaurants) and grilled for as long as a day.  Shavings are cut off the block of meat for serving, and the remainder of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit.  Although it can be served in shavings on a plate (generally with rice and vegetable accompaniments), shawarma also refers to a sandwich or wrap made with shawarma meat and served with tahini sauce and fresh vegetables.  It is kind of like a Greek gyro, except with a completely different flavor profile.

This campfire version leaves out the rotary spit, but still packs a power punched flavor journey that is hard to beat.  Bring on the “gyro on crack” – Campfire Chicken Shawarma!  Made especially delightful with Middle Eastern Basmati Rice.

Campfire Chicken Shawarma Ingredients

  • 4 pounds chicken breast
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • juice of 3 lemons (roughly 7 tablespoons)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cardamon pods, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped parsley (flat or curly, doesn’t matter)
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced into strips
  • 1 tomato, halved and sliced into thin slices
  • 1/2 half red onion, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water for 30 minutes (the water reduces the onion potency)
  • Additional sumac for garnish
  • 2.5 pounds fresh pizza dough, or three 13.8 ounce tubes of Pillsbury pizza dough

Tahini Yogurt Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
  • Water to smooth out to a thick sauce, roughly 1/2 cup or so

How to Make Chicken Shawarma with Tahini Yogurt Sauce While Camping

Prior to heading out on your camping adventure, make the Tahini Yogurt Sauce by combining all sauce ingredients together in a container (a used sour cream container is perfect) and stirring to combine.  Add enough water to smooth into a loose thick sauce, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate (a cooler counts!) until ready to use.  Also, prior to leaving home, marinate your chicken overnight or at least 5 hours.

For the chicken marinade, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, spices, and salt in a large enough container to hold all of the chicken.  Whisk together to combine.

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces, and add to marinade.  Stir to coat all the chicken with the marinade, then press down on the chicken to squeeze the marinade up to the top of the chicken.  Cover container with lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate over night or at least 5 hours.  Then place in an iced chest cooler and take camping with you to cook on the campfire.

Chicken Shawarma Marinade

Chicken Shawarma Marinade

At your campsite, prepare the campfire for cooking by building a hot fire and letting it burn for 45-minutes or so to get a good bed of coals going.  Then, spread coals out to achieve a “medium-low” heat setting.  Place a campfire rack over the coals, making sure the coals are spread evenly under the length of the rack.  The rack should be about a foot above the coal bed and you should only be able to hold your hand at rack level for 5 seconds.  Think “medium setting” on your stove back home.  This is the optimal heat level for grilling bread.  You may need to refuel the coals with small sticks during the cooking process.  If the fire/coals seam to get too hot, just remove some of the added sticks to maintain a “medium-low” cooking heat.

With the fire ready to cook on, cut dough into 10 even balls and form into large pita-sized shapes.  Grill each “pita” over the coals on the campfire rack.  If your heat setting is right, the bottom of the dough will turn a deep brown just as the top gets bubbly.  Flip dough over and grill the other side until browned.  Remove from rack, set aside, and repeat with remaining dough.

Grill Pita Dough Over Campfire

Grill Pita Dough Over Campfire

Once all the pitas are cooked, add a few sticks on top of the coals to increase the heat and have small flames to grill the chicken over.  The campfire rack should be about a foot above the coal bed and you should only be able to hold your hand at rack level for 3 seconds.  Think “medium setting” on your stove back home.  This is the optimal heat level for grilling chicken.  You will likely need to refuel the coals with small sticks several times during the chicken cooking process.  If the fire/coals seam to get too hot, just remove some of the added sticks to maintain the “medium” cooking heat.

With the fire ready to cook on, skewer the chicken on 7 metal 12-14″ long skewers, dividing the chicken up evenly across the skewers.  If you don’t have metal skewers, repent and go buy some.  Bamboo will just burn right up over the campfire and piss everyone off.

Place the chicken skewers on the the campfire rack over the prepared campfire.  Cook over medium heat, rotating every 4-5 minutes until chicken is firm and cooked through, roughly 30 minutes, adding small sticks to the fire to adjust heat levels as needed.  Be careful when turning the chicken.  The hot metal skewers will burn the crap out of you if you grab them bare-handed (trust me, I know).  Using tongs and grabbing the middle of the chicken skewer to lift and turn the entire skewer is much easier and safer for everyone involved.

Grill Chicken Shawarma Over Campfire Coals

Grill Chicken Shawarma Over Campfire Coals

Here’s a picture of the “medium” coals with some added sticks to keep the cooking temperature just right.  See the sticks?  See the glowing coals?

Grill Chicken Over Medium Coals and Small Burning Sticks

Grill Chicken Over Medium Coals and Small Burning Sticks

 

How to Assemble Chicken Shawarma

Place a grilled pita on a plate, preferably with some Middle Eastern Basmati Rice.  Spread a couple large spoonfuls of Tahini Yogurt Sauce onto the center of the pita, making a strip of sauce the length of the pita.  Take a chicken skewer, place it in the pita and sauce, and pull the chicken off onto the pita.  Sprinkle with reserved sumac and some chopped parsley.  Add sliced cucumber, tomato, and red onion as desired.  Eat and do a little happy dance.

Camping Chicken Shawarma with Tahini Yogurt Sauce

Camping Chicken Shawarma with Tahini Yogurt Sauce

This recipe serves 7-8 hungry campers, so adjust quantities as needed.

Recipe by Jothan Yeager, July 2014

 

The Bald Gourmet loves outdoor campfire cooking, and blows away a group of scouts with this delicious Middle Eastern Chicken Shawarma recipe creation.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews

Gourmet Camping Recipe: Chicken Shawarma
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Not familiar with Shawarma? You need to be, especially considering how perfect it is cooked over an open fire in the back country. It is kind of like a Greek gyro, except with a completely different flavor profile. This campfire version packs a power punched flavor journey that is hard to beat. Bring on the “gyro on crack” – Campfire Chicken Shawarma!
Author:
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Servings: 8

Ingredients
  • Campfire Chicken Shawarma Ingredients
  • 4 pounds chicken breast
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • juice of 3 lemons (roughly 7 tablespoons)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cardamon pods, ground
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped parsley (flat or curly, doesn’t matter)
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and sliced into strips
  • 1 tomato, halved and sliced into thin slices
  • ½ half red onion, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water for 30 minutes (the water reduces the onion potency)
  • Additional sumac for garnish
  • 2.5 pounds fresh pizza dough, or three 13.8 ounce tubes of Pillsbury pizza dough
  • Tahini Yogurt Sauce Ingredients
  • 1 cup tahini
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
  • Water to smooth out to a thick sauce, roughly ½ cup or so

Instructions
  1. Prior to heading out on your camping adventure, make the Tahini Yogurt Sauce by combining all sauce ingredients together in a container (a used sour cream container is perfect) and stirring to combine. Add enough water to smooth into a loose thick sauce, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate (a cooler counts!) until ready to use. Also, prior to leaving home, marinate your chicken overnight or at least 5 hours.
  2. For the chicken marinade, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, spices, and salt in a large enough container to hold all of the chicken. Whisk together to combine.
  3. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces, and add to marinade. Stir to coat all the chicken with the marinade, then press down on the chicken to squeeze the marinade up to the top of the chicken. Cover container with lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate over night or at least 5 hours. Then place in an iced chest cooler and take camping with you to cook on the campfire.
  4. At your campsite, prepare the campfire for cooking by building a hot fire and letting it burn for 45-minutes or so to get a good bed of coals going. Then, spread coals out to achieve a “medium-low” heat setting. Place a campfire rack over the coals, making sure the coals are spread evenly under the length of the rack. The rack should be about a foot above the coal bed and you should only be able to hold your hand at rack level for 5 seconds. Think “medium setting” on your stove back home. This is the optimal heat level for grilling bread. You may need to refuel the coals with small sticks during the cooking process. If the fire/coals seam to get too hot, just remove some of the added sticks to maintain a “medium-low” cooking heat.
  5. With the fire ready to cook on, cut dough into 10 even balls and form into large pita-sized shapes. Grill each “pita” over the coals on the campfire rack. If your heat setting is right, the bottom of the dough will turn a deep brown just as the top gets bubbly. Flip dough over and grill the other side until browned. Remove from rack, set aside, and repeat with remaining dough.
  6. Once all the pitas are cooked, add a few sticks on top of the coals to increase the heat and have small flames to grill the chicken over. The campfire rack should be about a foot above the coal bed and you should only be able to hold your hand at rack level for 3 seconds. Think “medium setting” on your stove back home. This is the optimal heat level for grilling chicken. You will likely need to refuel the coals with small sticks several times during the chicken cooking process. If the fire/coals seam to get too hot, just remove some of the added sticks to maintain the “medium” cooking heat.
  7. With the fire ready to cook on, skewer the chicken on 7 metal 12-14″ long skewers, dividing the chicken up evenly across the skewers. If you don’t have metal skewers, repent and go buy some. Bamboo will just burn right up over the campfire and piss everyone off.
  8. Place the chicken skewers on the the campfire rack over the prepared campfire. Cook over medium heat, rotating every 4-5 minutes until chicken is firm and cooked through, roughly 30 minutes, adding small sticks to the fire to adjust heat levels as needed. Be careful when turning the chicken. The hot metal skewers will burn the crap out of you if you grab them bare-handed (trust me, I know). Using tongs and grabbing the middle of the chicken skewer to lift and turn the entire skewer is much easier and safer for everyone involved.
  9. How to Assemble Chicken Shawarma
  10. Place a grilled pita on a plate, preferably with some Middle Eastern Basmati Rice. Spread a couple large spoonfuls of Tahini Yogurt Sauce onto the center of the pita, making a strip of sauce the length of the pita. Take a chicken skewer, place it in the pita and sauce, and pull the chicken off onto the pita. Sprinkle with reserved sumac and some chopped parsley. Add sliced cucumber, tomato, and red onion as desired. Eat and do a little happy dance.

Notes
This recipe makes enough to feed 7-8 hungry campers, so adjust quantities as needed.

5 Comments + Add Comment

  • […] Get Recipe Here […]

  • Made the shawarma marinade with the following modifications :all spices as listed with the addition of 1/4 tsp, of smoked hot paprika and no sumac since I had none on hand. Then I froze the poultry chunks in the marinade. Better than the NYC street vendors by far!
    Bought whole wheat pizza dough from WF and felt very healthy for the effort:).

    • Thanks for the compliment Yves. Glad you liked the recipe. Smoked paprika sounds good, and would give the campfire smoke flavor without the camping. Thanks for stopping by The Bald Gourmet. Happy eating!

  • Thanks for this recipe! I’m going camping in 3 days and this will be delicious!

    • You betcha Rebecca. You’re going to love it! Let me know how it goes.

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I'm Jothan Yeager and I am The Bald Gourmet. After years of experimenting in my kitchen, creating delicious food and eating at amazing places around the world, I wanted a place to share my experiences with everyone. Thus the Bald Gourmet was born. I hope to open the doors of great food and great cooking to you, to inspire you to reach beyond prepared boxed meals, and to teach you of a world of deliciousness that has brought joy to me and those around me. Please enjoy the adventure which is The Bald Gourmet and share it with those you love.