Between coordinating a menu and making yourself and your house presentable, hosting a holiday celebration can be overwhelming. One of the small measures you can take to minimize stress is to revolve your menu around make-ahead dishes that can be prepared on the stovetop, which frees up the oven. This recipe, provided by the talented guys at the new pop-up dinner party Kitchen Kibitz, satisfies both requirements.
Tbeet is a traditional Iraqi-Jewish Shabbat meal, prepared the evening before and allowed to cook overnight so it’s ready to eat on the day cooking is prohibited. This version isn’t cooked overnight, but is mostly hands-off so you can tend to other tasks. The chicken is stuffed with a mixture of its giblets and heavily spiced rice, then cooked in a pot surrounded by more rice. The slow-cooked chicken juices flavor the entire pot, making the rice as savory and schmaltzy as the meat.
The Kitchen Kibitz organizers served this recipe at their inaugural—and sold-out—dinner a few weeks ago (more on that in an upcoming blog post), where diners kibitzed and feasted on chef Josh Lewin’s menu of traditional Jewish food with modern twists (so you know it passed the dinner party test!).
Recipe provided by Josh Lewin and adapted from “Delights from the Garden of Eden” by Nawal Nasrallah
Baharat is an Arabic spice blend. You can buy it from a spice store or make your own. You can use toothpicks to “sew” the chicken cavity closed in step three. This dish is traditionally served with hard-boiled eggs, which can be made ahead.
1 5-pound whole chicken, liver and giblets reserved
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon baharat spice blend
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
2 cups basmati rice
½ cup tomato juice
½ cup chicken stock
4 cups additional chicken stock
4 eggs, boiled and shelled (traditionally the eggs would be cooked, in the shell, with the chicken)
1. Rub the chicken inside and out with lemon juice, then coat generously in kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, on all sides.
2. Chop giblets and liver. Sauté them over medium-high heat in 1 tablespoon oil with half of the diced onion until well-browned, about 4 minutes. Add tomato, 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, baharat, coriander, and 1 cup rice. Cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Cool until able to handle by hand.
3. Stuff cavity of chicken with prepared rice mixture. Sew cavity closed and truss chicken.
4. In medium-sized pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place chicken breast-side down in oil, and brown for 5 minutes. Carefully turn chicken over and brown second side for 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to rack while starting to prepare rice.
5. In same pot, sauté remaining onion until brown and soft, but not burnt, about 4 minutes. Add tomato juice, ½ cup chicken stock, and chicken back to the pot. Bring liquid to boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until liquid is reduced by ¾.
6. Add remaining four cups chicken stock and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, about 45 minutes. Turn chicken halfway through cooking.
7. Remove chicken from the pot and reserve. Add remaining rice and salt to pot. Bring to a rapid boil and maintain for five minutes, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
8. Make a well in the middle of the pot and return the chicken to the pot. Surround it with the rice. (Traditionally the chicken would now be cooked in an oven for a few hours, or overnight.) Simmer on low heat for about one hour, or until a crust of rice forms at the bottom of the pot.
9. Serve the chicken by removing the meat, then inverting the pot and removing the crispy rice to garnish the platter. Serve with the hard-boiled eggs and pickles.