I briefly saw a FoodBeast post about a chicken and rice combo plate from a classic food cart in New York City. Apparently it's a staple there, and it's a perfect, comforty dish that I could get down on. Middle Eastern flavors are at play here, but the real trick is how much flavor gets packed into every bite. The trick is to marinate the chicken, pan fry it to golden brown, chop it and re-marinate the cooked bits, and pan fry the cooked chunks until crispy brown. It's SOOOOO good! Pile the chicken up on a bed of perfectly cooked turmeric rice, and SLATHER white sauce all over it, and damn... let me tell you. I gotta get my butt to New York.
Thank you to seriouseats.com for breaking down the secret recipe so well. It's awesome.
Prep the marinade:
- 2 Tbls lemon juice
- 1 Tbls chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper, (optional)
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup light olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (about 6 thighs)
Place the lemon juice, oregano, corriander, Aleppo, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil in a blender, and blend until smooth. Place chicken thighs in a bag, add HALF of the marinade and seal, massaging the marinade well into the chicken. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 - 4 hours. Flip and massage the bag of chicken every hour or so. Reserve remaining marinade.
For the white sauce:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 Tbls white sugar
- 2 Tbls white vinegar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place ingredients in a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauce should be tangy and slightly sweet. Store in a squirt bottle in the fridge.
Time to make some turmeric rice and pan fry the chicken:
- 2 Tbls unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1 1/2 cups long-grain or Basmati rice
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 Tbls vegetable oil
- kosher salt and pepper
- reserved marinade
In a medium pot over medium-high heat, melt butter and add spices. Toast the spices for about 2 min. and add the rice. Continue to toast the rice, stirring frequently, until opaque and nutty smelling, (about 4 min). Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper, stir and reduce heat down to low, cover and simmer for 15 min. Take off the heat and let rest, uncovered, for another 15 min. Fluff with a fork and cover to keep warm. T
Pull the chicken out of the fridge, remove and pat the thighs dry with paper towels, (make sure you do this step no longer than 4 hours into the marinade, or the chicken can get mealy). Season each thigh with lots of pepper and a little salt. Place a heavy skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and pan fry each thigh until nicely browned and cooked through, about 4 min. per side. Let chicken rest, loosely covered, for about 10 min. Chop the chicken up into 1/4" - 1/2" chunks, and toss in a bowl with remaining marinade. Cover and chill in fridge for about 15 min.
When ready to serve:
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
- 1 large tomato, cut into wedges
- Fluffy pocketless pita bread, brushed in butter, lightly toasted, and cut into 1 × 3-inch strips
- Harissa-style hot sauce, (Sriracha can sub for this)
- reserved cooked and chopped chicken
- reserved white sauce
- cooked turmeric rice
Working in batches, cook the chicken chunks with a little oil, in a hot cast iron or heavy skillet, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned and crisp, about 4 - 5 min. Lay down a couple scoops of rice to form a bed for the chicken. Place a scoop of crispy cooked chicken over the rice, and place a small pile of lettuce topped with diced tomatoes next to it. Drizzle sauce all over the whole plate, and lightly drizzle some Harissa over that. BAM BAM BAM! Serve with pita bread for scooping.