Switch Up Your Lunch Prep with Musakhan Rolls
By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer
While many Arab Americans enjoy middle eastern food to connect them to their motherland, Arab millennials and Gen Z adults aren’t cooking as much as their parents and grandparents, preferring takeout instead. There are many reasons for this phenomenon. Some are intimidated by recreating seemingly complicated dishes, and others think there is no way their cooking can compete with those of their mothers and grandmothers. Then there is the time element, as schedules are so busy there is barely any time to shop, prepare, and assemble these traditional dishes.
While some delicacies do indeed take a lot of time to prepare, there are modern conveniences and adaptations that can expedite the cooking process. One shortcut that can be implemented in a variety of recipes is the rotisserie chicken. The chicken pieces can be shredded and incorporated into Middle Eastern style soups, stews, rice dishes, and even wraps. With a little effort, this generation can keep the spirit of Arab cooking alive wherever they live.
In the United States, virtually every market has their brand of rotisserie chickens, but no two are created equal in terms of quality. Additives like carrageenan, soy, sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup and maltodextrin, or kidney disruptors like sodium phosphate find their way into the ingredients list of some of these chickens. The best rotisserie meats are the ones with minimal and recognizable ingredients, like chicken with salt or herbs only. It is also worth researching smaller independent chicken farmers nationwide that offer local chickens that have been farmed in a sustainable and humane way with a rotisserie business on the side.
One popular Palestinian chicken dish that is perfectly adaptable into a quick and on the go meal is Musakhan. Musakhan is chicken seasoned with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and sumac, topped with caramelized onions and toasted pine nuts. The chicken is baked on pita bread so that the bread absorbs all of the delicious chicken drippings. This dish can be easily transformed into on the go wraps, using shredded rotisserie chicken as a shortcut. To prepare meals for the week, just shred the chicken, saute and season the onions, wrap in tortillas, and heat and eat as you go.
To see the video of how to assemble the musakhan rolls, click on the video below:
- 1 package flour tortillas (you can use gluten free, low carb varieties, just make sure they are pliable)
- 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks from a rotisserie chicken, shredded
- 2 large onions, sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large tbsp ground sumac
- 3 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil (plus more for brushing on to the wraps before baking)
In a large skillet, heat 3 tbsp of olive oil, and saute the onions until soft and browned, which will take about 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and sumac. In a large bowl, add the sauteed onions to the shredded chicken and mix together well. Have a 9 by 13 inch glass casserole dish ready to assemble the rolls Take about 2 tbsp of the chicken mixture and put on a tortilla, fold both ends in, then roll up and place in the casserole dish. Repeat until you make about 10 of them. Brush the top with olive oil, and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.Serve with hummus or cucumber yogurt sauce if desired.
Blanche Shaheen is the author of the cookbook called “Feast In the Middle East, a Journey of Family and Cuisine” which you can order here: https://secure.mybookorders.com/mbo_index.php?isbn=9781545675113 She is also a journalist, and host of the popular cooking show called Feast in the Middle East. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond. You can check out her cooking video tutorials at https://www.youtube.com/user/blanchetv Her recipes can also be found at: https://feastinthemiddleeast.wordpress.com/