Editor’s note: Kayleigh is on family leave following the birth of her daughter Laila Reè Baig on Dec. 6. We are reprinting some of our favorite “In the Kitchen” columns while she is on leave. This one was originally published on Jan. 31, 2015.
They’re called the Halal Guys. Never heard of them? Well if you’ve ever walked past the corner of 53rd and Sixth at 7 p.m., you’ve seen the queque of hungry New Yorkers. If you didn’t join them, you passed up an opportunity to experience one of the best food carts in Manhattan. They serve up platters of rice with gyro meat and/or chicken or gyro sandwiches both topped with iceberg lettuce and fresh chopped tomatoes and a unique white sauce. The sauce is really the main reason I stand in that line. I’m a fan of the platter, extra white sauce. Oh and don’t forget the hot sauce, too.
What does this have to do with the next Sunday’s football showdown? It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Forget the wings and serve up something that even impatient New Yorkers are willing to wait in line for. Bring the Halal Guys to your kitchen and have the winning game day meal.
Always remember to have plenty of white sauce. (I always double the recipe.) Your guests will be asking for more, along with hot sauce such as Sriracha to top everything off. Serve with sides of toasted pita.
One more thing: the proper way to serve it up. The iceberg lettuce and tomatoes are not a side salad in any way. They are actually supposed to be eaten along with the rice and meat. I layer everything starting with lettuce first, then tomato, rice, meat and then the condiments. It might seem a bit strange but trust me when I say this dish will be the winning touchdown for this Sunday’s game day.
Halal Cart-Style Chicken & Rice Dish
For the Chicken:
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
1-2 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Rice:
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
3 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped into bite size pieces
6 plum tomatoes, diced, small
Pita bread, toasted and cut into triangles
Hot sauce, such as Sriracha
• In a small bowl combine all the sauce ingredients and whisk to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. The sauce should be tangy. Make ahead of time so the flavors will meld. Keep covered and in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
• For the chicken marinade, in a blender or food processor combine the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, coriander, garlic and ground pepper. Pulse until smooth. Season with salt to taste. Reserve half of the marinade for later. Place the other half of the marinade in a 1 gallon zip seal bag along with the chicken thighs. Seal the bag securely and massage to coat the chicken evenly. Let marinade in the refrigerator for 1-4 hours, no longer than 4 hours or the acid from the marinade will start to react with the chicken.
• After marinating remove the chicken from the bag. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook, without disturbing, for about 6 minutes. Using tongs, turn the chicken and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 6 more minutes. Transfer the chicken to a sheet tray and allow to cool.
• Using a chefs knife and a cutting board chop up the chicken into 1/4 inch chunks. Reserve any juices left on the sheet tray from the chicken. Transfer the chopped chicken to a bowl along with the reserved juices from the sheet tray. Add the other half of the reserved marinade. Cover loosely and refrigerate until ready to serve.
• In a large dutch oven melt the 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the turmeric and cumin, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat. Let the rice become toasted by stirring frequently and cooking for about 5 minutes. (This step makes a difference in the final outcome of the rice). Add the chicken broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes without disturbing. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Before serving fluff with a fork.
• Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Return the chicken and all of its liquids that have been reserved on the side to the heated skillet. Str occasionally until heated through, about 3-4 minutes. Serve immediately with the iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, pita bread and white sauce.
Kayleigh Van Vliet Baig was born and raised in Riverhead, where she lives with her husband Tahir and their two dogs.
Kayleigh is in her third season as Sous Chef at a private kitchen in Southampton. Not only is she second in command but her main focus is on creating, preparing and executing cold dishes such as salads, hors d’œuvres, appetizers, canapés, pâtés and terrines. Kayleigh has been in the culinary industry for the last 15 years, working her way up in kitchens on the East End. She also is a personal chef.
Look for In the Kitchen with Kayleigh every Saturday on SoutholdLOCAL.com.
Got questions? Recipes? Ideas?