Kitchen Vacation: Ottoman Chicken

As I explained yesterday, one of the things I brought back from Istanbul was a baggie of Ottoman spice. I don’t know precisely what’s in it, but my guess is: cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic, and thyme. Heavier on cumin and paprika, lighter on the rest. That’s about as precise as the rest of this recipe is going to be.

Ottoman spice in its natural habitat

Ottoman spice in its natural habitat

Ottoman chicken was a recipe I invented to make for a rather gourmet camping trip I took with a few friends last summer. I made the marinade and kept it in a tupperware, and I packed the chicken separately, still frozen, and then I let the chicken thaw, cut it up, and combined it with the marinade on the second day of our trip. No one died of salmonella, but I can’t guarantee you’ll get the same results, so maybe you want to make this in your home kitchen, with access to a refrigerator, and not over a campfire.

I have no idea about measurements for this recipe. When not baking, I tend to eyeball everything. Make enough marinade to cover the amount of chicken you want to serve.

Ottoman Chicken

  • Boneless chicken breast (although I’m sure this would be delicious on thighs as well), cubed
  • Ottoman spice (as above)
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Skewers (if grilling)
  1. If you don’t have pre-mixed Ottoman spice, mix up a batch.
  2. Combine olive oil and lemon in approximately 2:1 ratio.
  3. Mix in enough Ottoman spice to make it look orangey and taste zingy. (That’s scientific, right?)
  4. Add the cubed chicken to the marinade, cover, and let it sit in a refrigerator (or in a cooler in the back of someone’s car if you’re camping) for several hours.
  5. If you’re campfire-ing it: skewer the chicken and grill until nicely browned and cooked through. If you’re doing it on a stovetop, saute until similarly browned and safe.

We ate these on pita with some hummus and grilled veggies alongside. Worked pretty nicely. It didn’t exactly taste like anything I ate in Istanbul, but it did taste pretty darn good.

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3 thoughts on “Kitchen Vacation: Ottoman Chicken

  1. I bought some Ottomans Spice at the Spice Market in Istanbul because it smelled good! I wasn’t quite sure how to use it but I figured I could goggle it! That’s exactly what I did! I found your recipe which looked really easy! Can’t go wrong with olive oil and lemon juice! I did exactly what you suggested and it turned out great! Thank you! Now I have a brand new family recipe! I may have to go back to Istanbul to get some Ottoman Spice!

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