Middle Eastern Spiced Chicken with Baked Rice and Pistachio

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I'm currently devouring leftovers of this as I write.

After finishing my month of clean eating I wanted to ease back into rice, and Robert had this recipe on the back burner for a minute. Middle Eastern spices are his favorite, and I'd argue what he makes the most delicious and interesting meals using. It helps that he has an audience that goes gaga for them (spice party of one over here!). Pretty frequently he'll talk about the food he ate in Jordan when he traveled there, and the similar food he has sought out since. I wanted to give a dish that this was inspired by, he said nothing fully matched it but Maqluba was on his mind when he was deciding how to make it. A quick google image search and I understood how he got from there to here. It's such simple ingredients that together create a dish pretty special. 

Sunday seemed like the perfect day for it, given it's another one of those- just put it in the dutch oven and let it do its thing for a while. I can't begin to describe how flavorful this is. Asparagus pushes the flavor towards spring, and the spice blend adds so much character to the entire dish, it's hard to resist going back for seconds. 

Middle Eastern Spiced Chicken with Baked Rice and Pistachio
serves 4

4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
2 cups brown rice, uncooked
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and chopped
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
Middle Eastern spice blend (recipe to follow)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
4 tsp za’atar

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large dutch oven, combine rice, pistachios, asparagus, shallots, and garlic. Add chicken stock and middle eastern spice blend, stir to combine thoroughly. Season both sides of chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper. Place them atop rice and vegetable mixture and cover dutch oven with lid. Bake for 1 hour, remove lid and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until rice is tender and chicken is cooked fully. To serve, divide rice between four plates, top with chicken thigh and garnish with cilantro, parsley, green onion and za’atar. 

Middle Eastern Spice Blend
1 tbs cumin
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tbs black pepper
1 tsp salt

In a small, nonreactive bowl, mix all spices to combine.