In this New York Street Cart Chicken recipe, chicken thighs are briefly marinaded, chopped in the pan, and cooked until crispy. It is served with pita bread, peppers and onions, rice pilaf and the best smoked paprika-garlic dipping sauce. I love this chicken recipe because the marinade and chicken thighs add so much savoriness in the pan as the chicken cooks. The chicken is moist, crispy, and has a really nice texture from being roughly chopped in the pan. The other thing that makes it so good is the use of cloves. It’s a pretty different spice than we typically use when cooking dinner, which makes it pretty satisfying in its unexpectedness.
This dish is my favorite new dinner recipe that we have made over the last year. We first had this dish almost exactly a year ago after we brought our youngest baby home from the hospital. One of our friends, Christen, brought this meal over along with freshly made pita bread, still warm from the oven. Not only was it such a relief and joy to have a friend bring over dinner, it was one of the best things I had eaten in a long time. She passed along the recipe she uses from youtuber Ethan Chlebowski.
I spent weeks, and lots of mayo, yogurt, and sour cream trying to get the exact right balance of fat, acidity and spice in the dipping sauce. I also adjusted the marinade for the chicken. We serve this with peppers and onions, rice pilaf, and homemade pita bread. I always double this recipe (cooking the chicken in batches), and even then, we end up with some but not a ton of leftovers. Its definitely good enough to double - you'll want leftovers - and I have on one occasion made 4x the recipe.
- Be careful what utensil you are using to roughly chop the chicken in the pan. If you’re a using nonstick pan, you probably want to avoid using a metal spatula so that it does not damage the nonstick coating. We always use stainless steel pans and either silicone or metal spatulas and kitchen tools.
- Pita Bread: We always make homemade pita bread with this dish, which in terms of preparation takes quite a bit more time than just cooking the chicken. But you could always use store bought, or better yet buy naan from the store and warm it up before serving (store bought pita bread can be dry and brittle, naan tends to be better).
- When making the dipping sauce I found that using just mayo wasn't quite right, it needed a bit more acidity and sourness from the sour cream. I've also tried this with varying amounts of plain greek yogurt, and I didn't love that either. The combination that I like the most is the ½ cup mayo with a large spoonful of sour cream with the other add-ins.
- If you are doubling the recipe, be sure to cook the chicken in batches if needed. It will need space in the pan in order to get crispy.
- This recipe is adapted from Ethan Chlebowski's Street Cart Chicken and Yellow Rice.
New York Street Cart Chicken
Chicken and Marinade
- 2 tbsp mayo
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp oregano
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ lemon, squeezed
- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
Peppers, Onions, and Sides
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 bell peppers, sliced
- 1 box rice pilaf
- homemade pita bread or store bought naan
- ½ cup mayo
- 1 large spoonful sour cream
- ¼ lemon, squeezed
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp oregano
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- pinch salt
- In a large bowl combine the mayo, salt, cloves, cumin, oregano, black pepper, garlic, lemon juice. Add the chicken thighs and toss to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes or overnight.
- Bring a large sauté pan to medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons olive oil and add the onions. Cover for 5-10 minutes. Uncover and stir occasionally until they start to caramelize. Remove the onions and add the bell peppers. Sauté for 5-7 minutes until tender. Remove from the pan.
- Add the chicken and any extra marinade. Let sit and do not stir, or flip until the chicken starts to cook through and the bottom starts to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Then flip each chicken thigh over and allow to brown for another 5-7 minutes.
- Using a stiff spatula (I use a metal spatula, or rather a metal cheese slicer, in a stainless steel pan, but any other spatula that is firm and thin at the end will work) apply pressure to roughly cut up the chicken in the pan. It is this rough chop in the pan that gives the chicken great texture. Toss the chicken and let cook a few more minutes to allow the chicken to get a little crispier, another 5-10 minutes.
- Separately, prepare a box of rice pilaf according to the directions on the box. We only use half the spice packet provided as I think the flavors are bit overwhelming. We tried this once without any of the spices, but it turned out a bit bland. So now we just do half or less of the spice packet.
- Dipping Sauce: combine the mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, black pepper, smoked paprika, oregano, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl.
- Serve the chicken with peppers, onions, rice pilaf, pita bread or naan, and dipping sauce.