Riz a Jej (Lebanese Chicken & Rice)

Riz a Jej, Lebanese Chicken & Rice

This traditional Lebanese chicken and rice dish is one of my favorites. Flavorful, seasoned rice, topped with juicy chicken and studded with nuts—it is, for me, the purest definition of comfort food. I have so many memories around this dish with my grandmother, so I wrote a sweet story around this for Food52. Hope you all get to taste my grandmother’s simple Lebanese chicken and rice dish.

PHOTO BY JULIA GARTLAND

Total Time: 1 hour
Makes: 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • 1 tbsp EVOO

  • 1 cup onion, chopped

  • 2 lbs ground beef or lamb

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice

  • 2 tbsp salt

  • 4 tbsp bahārāt (seven-pepper spice)

  • 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

  • 5 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 cup cashews

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup silvered almonds

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

  • 1/4 cup pistachios

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. MAKE RICE: In a large pot, add the butter, olive oil, and onion and cook for 5 minutes until the onion softens. Make sure the onions don’t brown. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes until the meat starts to brown. Add the rice, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the bahārāt to the pot, and cook for 2 minutes as you're stirring and coating the rice with the spices. Add 4 cups of chicken stock and bay leaves to the pot and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked.

  2. MAKE CHICKEN: In a medium-sized pot, add shredded chicken and remaining 2 tbsp bahārāt. Mix well until fully seasoned. Add remaining 1 cup of chicken stock to the mixture and bring it to a gentle simmer on a low heat. This process will keep the chicken moist and flavorful.

  3. TOAST NUTS: Set the oven at the 450°F. In separate batches, toast each nut in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly golden. Once toasted, mix all the nuts together. Set aside.

  4. ASSEMBLE: To assemble, place the rice mixture on a serving platter and cover with shredded chicken. Garnish with toasted nuts.