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Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice with White Sauce #SundaySupper

Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice with White Sauce

Welcome to another Sunday Supper – our theme this week? Regional Specialties. Of where we currently live. Since moving last summer, I only barely live in New Jersey (I can literally see NYC from my outside my building), so I’m calling upon my nearly nine years living in Queens for this week’s recipe.

Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice with White Sauce

Queens is a very large and very diverse borough/county, and I lived in a particularly diverse neighborhood. Unlike some parts of Queens (i.e. Astoria, Jackson Heights, etc.) it was hard to pin down a predominant ethnicity in my area. But if I had to do so, I’d say it was Middle Eastern. We had two grocery stores within blocks of each other that featured halal meat sections, and a couple of halal street carts, which are also abundant all over Manhattan.

Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice with White Sauce

This is the typical meal you get from those halal street vendors. Spiced buttery rice topped with chopped chicken thighs, doused with a delicious yet mystifyingly simple white sauce, and dotted with harissa if you want it spicy. Shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes always adorn it on the side. It’s SO New York.

Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice with White Sauce

And this homemade version is hands down, the absolute best I’ve ever tasted. As Matt put it, “you’ve now ruined halal carts for me.” So bottom line, wherever you live, you must, must try this recipe, because it is unbelievably delicious. Enjoy!

Halal Cart Style Chicken and Rice with White Sauce

And don’t forget to check out the regional fare from the rest of my Sunday Supper crew! We’re from all over the place so this should be quite fun!

Source: Serious Eats, recipe by Kenji Lopez-Alt


2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp ground coriander
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (6 to 8 thighs)
1 tbs vegetable or canola oil

2 tbs unsalted butter
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 cups long-grain or Basmati rice
3 scant cups chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tbs sugar
2 tbs white vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
Romaine or iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 large tomato, cut into wedges, or cherry tomatoes halved
Harissa-style hot sauce

For the CHICKEN: Combine the lemon juice, oregano, coriander, garlic, and olive oil in a blender. Blend until smooth. Season the marinade to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag and add half of the marinade (reserve the remaining marinade in the refrigerator). Turn the chicken to coat, seal the bag, and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours, turning occasionally to redistribute the marinade. Do not marinate the chicken longer than 4 hours or it will turn mushy.

Remove the chicken from the bag and pat it dry with paper towels. Season with kosher salt and pepper, going heavy on the pepper. Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat until it is lightly smoking. Add the chicken pieces and cook without disturbing until they are lightly browned on the first side, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the center of each thigh registers 165°F. on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Cook in batches if necessary, as you don’t want to crowd the pan and steam the chicken. You want them well-browned.

Roughly chop the chicken into 1/2- to 1/4-inch chunks. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the remaining marinade, cover loosely with plastic, and refrigerate while you cook the rice and prepare the sauce.

For the RICE: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the turmeric and cumin and cook until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is lightly toasted. Add the chicken broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to low, and cook for 15-18 minutes without disturbing. Remove from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

For the WHITE SAUCE: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, and 2 tsp black pepper. Whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt.

To SERVE: Return the entire contents of the chicken bowl (chicken, marinade, and all juices) to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. To serve, divide the rice, lettuce, and tomato evenly among four to six plates. Pile the chicken on top of the rice. Top with the white sauce and hot sauce, if desired. Serve immediately, passing extra sauce at the table.






Side Dishes:


Main Dish:


Plus Rhubarb Steamed Pudding and Favorite Regional Recipes from Sunday Supper Movement

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Dirty Wild Rice with Duck Bacon, Pecans, and Bourbon Sauce

Dirty Wild Rice with Duck Bacon, Pecans, and Bourbon Sauce

Matt and I have been on many, many dates in our thirteen years together (thirteen years, I still can’t believe it!!), but one that particularly stands out to me happened several years ago on Valentine’s Day. He took me to Bar Americain, one of Bobby Flay’s high end restaurants, and I guess because it was Valentine’s Day, I was anticipating a lowly-lit, slightly secluded, quiet and romantic experience.

Dirty Wild Rice with Duck Bacon, Pecans, and Bourbon Sauce

Yeah, not so much! The restaurant’s seating is very New York (read: close together), and the place was absolutely packed that night. We were led to a two-seater table, sitting facing one another, with barely enough room for a small purse between myself and the next two-seater table. All was not lost though. What made the entire night incredibly entertaining, albeit not terribly romantic, is that the couple seated next to us was this elderly man and woman who were having a very spirited argument about the finer details and overall merits of The Real Housewives of … somewhere, I forgot which city.

Dirty Wild Rice with Duck Bacon, Pecans, and Bourbon Sauce

Matt and I gave up on any romantic conversation and instead had fun listening to this couple go at each other’s throats about such a banal topic. Oh, and the food was good too!

What I’m sharing today is what Matt ordered that night, or more accurately, a streamlined version of it, seeing as my home kitchen is not a Bobby Flay restaurant. I’m happy to report that I still got the point across though. This is a play on the New Orleans dish dirty rice, which is typically made with white rice, but Flay twists it up with a combination of Arborio rice and wild rice. Quite delicious! In his restaurant he pairs this with seared duck breast, but I slimmed it down to some duck bacon lardons scattered over the rice, thus keeping the meal to less food overall, plus this let the dirty rice be the star of the plate. You can sub regular pork bacon or even turkey bacon if you can’t find duck bacon.

Dirty Wild Rice with Duck Bacon, Pecans, and Bourbon Sauce

Even with a few changes, this really does taste restaurant quality, and happily reminded Matt of our date years ago. Which was the goal, so that was nice. I highly recommend for a lovely date night at home! Enjoy!

dirty wild rice with duck bacon, pecans and bourbon sauce

Source: adapted from Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay

1 quart chicken stock
1 package (8-12 oz.) duck bacon, chopped into lardons
Olive oil, as needed
½ lb. chicken livers
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno chiles, diced, seeded if desired
1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup cooked wild rice
2 tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tbs pure maple syrup
¼ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup bourbon
2-3 whole thyme sprigs
2 tbs cold butter, cut into cubes
Louisiana style hot sauce, for passing at the table

Pour the chicken stock into a small stockpot and keep warm over low heat. Set aside.
In a large, high-sided skillet, add the duck bacon lardons over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring until the fat has rendered and the lardons are crisped. Remove to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon.
Pat the chicken livers dry with a paper towel, then season them with salt and pepper to taste. Add olive oil to the skillet if needed (you may have enough fat from the bacon). Add the chicken livers over high heat and cook, turning once, until golden brown and cooked to medium, about 5 minutes. Remove to a cutting board, let cool until you can handle them, then coarsely chop. It’s okay if there’s still a little bit of pink on the insides. Set aside.
Turn the skillet to medium heat and add the butter. Add the celery, garlic, and jalapenos and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the roasted peppers and cook 1 minute. Now add the Arborio rice, stir and cook 1 minute.
Begin adding the warmed stock to the skillet, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until absorbed. Continue adding stock and stirring until the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes. You may not need all of the stock.
Now stir in the wild rice, chicken livers, parsley, thyme, and maple syrup. Let it heat through, about 2-3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
Meanwhile, pour the bourbon into a small saucepan or stockpot, add the whole thyme sprigs, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce by at least half, until it has thickened a bit to a sauce consistency. Add the cold butter, one piece at a time, until it melts. Shut off the heat and remove the thyme.
To serve, transfer the rice to a large serving bowl. Scatter the pecans and reserved duck bacon over top. Spoon into bowls and drizzle with bourbon sauce. Pass the hot sauce if desired.

Red Beans and Rice


Earlier this week, Matt and I took a romantic getaway to New Orleans. We were there for four glorious days, enjoying sixty-degree temperatures, beautiful architecture, drunk college students, art galleries, and some of the most scrumptious and amazing food you can find anywhere. I do seriously believe that New Orleans boasts possibly the best food in the United States.


This was an anniversary trip for us. Not our wedding anniversary, but the anniversary of meeting each other. We met on March 12, 2003, at the Tropical Isle, on Bourbon Street, in New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s a long story. 😉 So for our ten-year anniversary, of course we had to return to the scene of the crime.


NOLA is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite places to visit. I first went there with my family as a kid. It was a brief stop on a road trip returning from Orlando, and even then I thought it was a neat place. I visited several times during my twenties and twice now in my thirties. And isn’t it funny, I find that in my twenties, the trip held much more emphasis on drinking than eating, whereas in my thirties, I am much more interested in eating than drinking. I guess I’ve just matured. Or something…


Anyways, there was much deliciousness enjoyed on this trip. I had shrimp and grits at Mr. B’s Bistro (part of the Brennan’s family of restaurants); fried green tomatoes (twice!), pralines, praline cheesecake (oh my), alligator sausage at the French Market, turtle soup (the best thing ever – try it if you have never done so), crawfish etouffee, gumbo, the BEST buttermilk pancakes of my life – seriously!, bread pudding, two po’boys, and fried cheesecake. Yes, fried cheesecake. Uh huh.


I also tried hog’s head cheese for the first time (interesting…) and of course I was the typical wife who kept sneaking her fork onto her husband’s plate! So I also had some fried chicken, the best jambalaya I’ve ever tasted, a bite of muffalletta, some biscuits and gravy, and crawfish cake eggs benedict.


And I can’t forget, we also dined at Emeril’s New Orleans, which was truly a fantastic meal. At Emeril’s I had a life-changing appetizer of buffalo duck wings. Oh lerd… there are no words. I then ate a delicious salmon dish and some whiskey pecan cake for dessert. Also, I had a few bites of Matt’s decadent chocolate peanut butter pie.


Oh New Orleans….. such a foodie paradise. Ironically, I did not have the NOLA classic I’m blogging today, probably because I had made and eaten it a couple weeks prior. But I could have. I saw it on many menus down there. And it’s delicious. So make it soon and enjoy!


Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, January & February 2010

Kosher salt
1 lb. dried kidney beans, rinsed and picked over for rocks
4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 bell pepper of any color, seeded and chopped fine
1 celery rib, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Fresh cracked black pepper
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
6 cups water
8 oz. andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and chopped into a 1/4-inch dice
1 tsp red wine vinegar
3 scallions, sliced thin
Hot sauce, for serving
2 cups long-grain white rice
1 tbs unsalted butter
3 cups water
1 tsp kosher salt

Dissolve 3 tbs salt in 4 quarts cold water in a large mixing bowl. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
Place the bacon in a large Dutch oven and heat to medium. Stirring often, cook the bacon until crisped and the fat has rendered, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. To the drippings, add the onion, pepper, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne, and some black pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the beans, stock, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and keep at a good simmer until the beans are just soft and liquid begins to thicken, 45 to 60 minutes.
Stir in the sausage and red wine vinegar. Cook until liquid is thick and beans are fully tender and creamy, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and additional red wine vinegar, if needed.
Meanwhile, make the rice.
Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice and stir to toast and coat with the butter. Add the water and salt, and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to low. Steam for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork when done.
Serve the beans over the rice, sprinkle with the scallions and put on a few dashes of hot sauce, if desired.

Mexican Green Rice


Happy President’s Day, everyone! I hope you are enjoying a day to rest, or catch up on errands or chores, or that you’re getting paid overtime if you have to work. I ran through my (ever-growing) list of recipes I want to blog, and wasn’t sure what would be appropriate for a President’s Day post. Is there any food that particularly signifies this national holiday? Probably not. So, on a whim, I just picked this delicious dish to share.


Mexican Green Rice is a traditional Mexican dish you’ll find on many restaurant menus and in pretty much any cookbook dedicated to Mexican food. It’s just too iconic and ubiquitous to omit. Everyone knows how much Mexico loves its rice, so it’s natural that they would want to flavor it up in different ways.


What makes it green? I’m glad you asked! Green chiles, cilantro, and spinach. So, as an added bonus, you’re sneaking a healthy vegetable into you and your family’s tummies when you make this. And no, your children (or spouse, if need be) will not know there is spinach in there if you keep mum about it. The flavors really marry together and no one ingredient sticks out in any glaring way.


I should point out that Mexican green rice is different from the green rice you’ll find at Tex-Mex restaurants. I’m sure Texas green rice was inspired by its Mexican counterpart, but Tex-Mex green rice does not usually contain spinach. This Mexican rice dish easily finds a comfortable and delicious home alongside any Mexican entrée of your choosing. And this particular recipe makes a ton of rice, so feel free to cut it by half. Enjoy!


Source: adapted from ModMex by Scott Linquist

2-3 poblano chiles
3 tbs canola oil
1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cups long-grain white rice
4 cups warm water
2 cups baby spinach leaves
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper

Roast the poblanos either under your broiler or over the flame on your gas stovetop until blackened and charred on all sides. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let them steam for 15 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and scrape off the blackened skins. Stem and seed the chiles. Place the flesh in a blender.
Heat a medium to large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the oil, onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Now add the rice and stir to toast and coat it with the oil. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the water and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Lower the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook at least 20 minutes, maybe up to 10 minutes longer. The rice is done when no liquid remains and it is soft but not mushy to the bite.
While the rice is cooking, add the spinach and cilantro to the blender. Puree until smooth, adding a splash of water if necessary.
Combine the puree with the cooked rice and stir to mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reheat in the stockpot over medium heat, if necessary. Serve hot.

Cotija Rice


Back in mid-October, I had to attend a conference in DC for my day job. I convinced Matt to come with me (he has some old college friends living in the area) and off we went. After the first full day of the conference I was exhausted and starving and craving Mexican food something fierce, so Google found us a Mexican restaurant nearby. After some navigational difficulties and increased crankiness, we finally found the place and got ourselves seated. Upon reading the menu, we realized that this restaurant was owned by Richard Sandoval, of New York City Maya fame! Only, unlike Maya, it was a casual dining place.


Needless to say, we were quite enthused to order. We began our meal with table side served guacamole and then both ordered Mole specials. Mine came with pork, his with steak. I had a side of Mexican green rice, a most tasty and traditional dish, and Matt’s came with a side of what they called Cotija Rice.


Well, I must say, as delicious as the entrees were, we both mostly devoured Matt’s rice. It was unique, and some of the most delicious rice I’ve ever tasted. When our waiter came to clear our plates I asked him what, besides Cotija*, was in that rice? He basically gave me the recipe! I don’t know if that restaurant is just cool with their staff giving away their secrets or if it was his last day working there or what, but he just readily and cheerfully gave it up. I’ve had to play around with amounts a little to make it work smoothly, but it’s now all figured out and so, so perfect.


I warn you, this is NOT diet food. It’s rich and calorie-laden; but after your first bite you won’t care – it’s worth it. And the next day when you have to put an extra half hour on the treadmill, you’ll do so with a smile as you think fondly of how delicious the fattening rice tasted. Serve this alongside any Mexican entrée and watch as it is completely upstaged.

*Cotija is a hard Mexican cheese. You can substitute queso fresco if necessary.


3 tbs unsalted butter, divided
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ½ cups white rice
3 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
3 handfuls finely grated (not crumbled) Cotija cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Minced cilantro, for garnish

In a medium pot, melt 1 tbs of butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for about a minute, until just softened. Add the rice and stir to toast and coat with the butter. Next add the water and turn the heat up to high. Stir the rice around to make sure it doesn’t stick together.
When the water comes up to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover the pot and don’t touch it for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, uncover the pot and fluff the rice with a fork. It should be done, but if it’s not then cover the pot again and let it go another few minutes, until no liquid remains and the rice is soft but not mushy.
When the rice is cooked, add the remaining 2 tbs butter, the cream and the cheese. Stir to make sure the butter and cheese melt and incorporate with the cream. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Remember to go easy on the salt because the cheese has a lot of salt already. Stir in some minced cilantro and serve immediately.