I am such a sucker for a chicken and rice dish and I know I’m not alone. Why do we love this combination? Many reasons: it’s easy (one pot) and comforting, it’s substantial, it’s adaptable ( riso alla pitocca, chicken biryani, arroz con pollo – and Cook’s does a spectacular version with bacon and red pepper – and of course we have to go and do this to it). I could write a term paper on the popularity and tenacity of this type of dish but I can also tell you what I really think which is: we love it because the rice absorbs the chicken fat making it unctuous and irresistible. It’s schmaltzy rice and it will own you like a fine RV-made meth. You will have one serving and then a second. You will continue to dip your fork back in when no one is looking and yet you will still nibble on it if you’re lucky enough to be doing clean-up that night.
The Jerusalem twist on this version is, as you might imagine, in the spices: barberries (or currants), cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon. Other than that, it’s your standard one-pot meal. Saute the onion, then brown the chicken, put it all back in the pan with the rice and boiling water, cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. finish with some fresh herbs (parsley, dill and cilantro) and a little Greek yogurt if you like (I liked but totally forgot to do it).
The flavors are amazing and the smell is out of this world. Because I had to transport this I learned that once finished you can put the whole thing in a 9 x 12″ baking dish, cover with foil, and reheat.
For a true one-dish meal I would simply throw some frozen peas in at the very end or maybe saute some carrots along with the onion.
Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice is on page 184 of Jerusalem and right here courtesy of the New York Times.