Classic Skillet Chicken

Taste of Home— A Classic Chicken Skillet

This week, Sharon and I share a a skillet chicken recipe that tastes like home.

I am in possession of three passports. I was born in Petach Tikva, Israel. I grew up in Sydney, Australia. My family moved to Los Angeles when I was in high school. That’s a lot of moving around. And we haven’t even factored in my family’s Iraqi/Babylonian heritage!

My home is in Los Angeles, where I live with my husband and our youngest daughter Shevy. My son and daughter in law live around the corner. We are very blessed to have our extended family around us. We have a wonderful life in Los Angeles. America is a beacon of light in the world. But there is always a piece of my heart in Israel.

When the war broke out, Alan and I promised Alexandra, our middle daughter, that we would visit her in the winter. So we are here, in this beautiful country. 

When the war broke out, Alan and I promised Alexandra, our middle daughter, that we would visit her in the winter. So we are here, in this beautiful country. 

It’s a young country, painstakingly built, brick by brick on the ancient stones of our biblical home. It’s a warm country filled with mothers and fathers who love their children with a crazy intensity. It’s a brash country filled with loud, impatient Israelis who will give you their heart and soul in times of trouble. 

When our friends Udi and Michal Schiff found out that we would be visiting, they told us that we had to join them for a special barbecue on Thursday night. My nephew Yosef Yitzchak and I met Alan at Ben Gurion Airport and we drove to Jerusalem to pick up Alexandra and Roni Schiff. The five of us drove South, towards the Nachal Oz military base. Alan was tired, so he asked me to drive. It was dark and it was pouring rain. Closer to the base, the steel tread of the tanks had left deep grooves in the road and the tires made alarming noises. 

All of a sudden, I see a massive tank parked in the middle of the road. I protest that I can drive no further, but my passengers urge me to drive around. 

On one side of the base is a thick wall, dividing Israel from Gaza. The sky over Gaza is a thick black, with occasional bursts of white light accompanied by a loud boom. On our side of the wall were many soldiers gathered in an area covered with canvas sails and littered with calisthenics equipment (donated by the Los Angeles FIDF). 

When I saw these beautiful men and women in their army greens, I couldn’t help myself and the tears started pouring down my cheeks. A few of the soldiers noticed that I was crying and so sweetly asked “At be’seder?” (Are you okay?)

I was not really okay. I was heartbroken for the loss of lives, for the families ripped apart, for the parents who lost sons and for the sons and daughters who lost fathers. I was frustrated by the seemingly never ending pain inflicted by the enemies of the Jewish people. 

Then Udi broke my heart again. He took us into the room where the tatzpaniyot (female border observers) were sitting on the morning of October 7th. They were suffocated when Hamas terrorists threw a gas grenade into the room. Then they set the place on fire. Two girls and a boy managed to escape the inferno, but 21 female soldiers lost their lives. 

We returned to the barbecue, happy to see our soldiers enjoying themselves in a brief respite from the war in Gaza. 

Organized by Yaniv Mateles, this core group of 25 friends from Givat Shmuel have been feeding the soldiers ever since the war began. This “Tzevet Esh Givat Shmuel” (Fire Squad) brings their own grills and coals, marinated meats and salatim (dips and veggies). They chop Israeli salad and each family brings an “interesting” homemade salad.

I don’t think I’ve ever tasted better “Al ha’esh” (literally, on the fire). The Arayes (ground beef barbecued in half a pita) were juicy and perfectly spiced. The chicken skewers were moist and flavorful. The chicken liver melted in my mouth. 

For dessert, the soldiers were treated to American style s’mores made with pink and white marshmallows, home made chocolate chip cookies and lots of cakes. And then the soldiers and the grill-masters began to dance to lively Israeli music.

Besides Nachal Oz, this dedicated group of people have fed our soldiers at Re’im, Or’im, Erez, Nachshonim, Yesod Ha’maaleh, Magen Alumim and Be’eri. They plan to continue grilling as long as the soldiers continue to serve. 


This week, Sharon and I share a a skillet chicken recipe that tastes like home. While this dish makes for a warm and comforting weeknight meal served over rice, it is special enough to serve as part of your Shabbat menu. Like many of our favorite recipes, this one calls for sautéed onions, fresh garlic, tomatoes and celery. The spices include turmeric, paprika, Aleppo pepper and that classic American spice rub Old Bay Seasoning. Slow cooking means that the chicken falls off the bone and the potatoes are soft and creamy. 

We are so honored when readers tells us that our chicken recipes are on heavy rotation in their kitchens. We’re pretty confident that you’re going to love this chicken recipe too! 

We pray that the soldiers can return to their normal lives and that all the hostages come home in peace. 


Classic Skillet Chicken 

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp turmeric
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 celery heart, 1 inch dice
4 Yukon gold potatoes, 2 inch dice
1 tsp kosher salt
1 whole chicken cut into 10 pieces, plus 6 wings
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
2 cups chicken stock or water.

In a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened.
Add the garlic and continue to sauté.
Add paprika and turmeric and stir well.
Add the celery and sauté for 3 minutes.
Add the potatoes and sprinkle the salt directly on the potatoes.
Add the chicken skin side down and sauté for 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and sprinkle the skin with the Aleppo pepper and Old Bay seasoning.
Pour the chicken stock around the edges of the skillet.
Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the skillet.
Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for 1 hour.
To achieve a perfect golden brown color, place uncovered skillet in an oven preheated to 450°F for 15-20 minutes.

Rachel Sheff and Sharon Gomperts have been friends since high school. They love cooking and sharing recipes. They have collaborated on Sephardic Educational Center projects and community cooking classes. Follow them on Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook at Sephardic Spice SEC Food.

🤞 Don’t miss the Latest Recipes!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply