Korean-American Chef David Chang knows good food: His restaurant Momofuku has maintained two Michelin stars since 2009. A restaurateur, author, podcaster and TV personality, his widespread vision for the ever-evolving culinary landscape knows no bounds. His Netflix show, Ugly Delicious, was a fascinating look into cooking, travel and history, often centering popular foods like pizza and tacos. His podcast, “Recipe Club,” features three chefs making the same recipe and then coming together to discuss the process and outcome. Recently he featured the classic Iraqi Jewish dish, T’beet, and (no surprise) ended up loving it.
T’beet is a richly spiced chicken and rice dish flavored with tomatoes, onion and baharat, a spice blend that includes cumin, paprika, cinnamon and other spices, depending on the family or region of origin. Like cholent or hamin, t’beet is cooked slowly at a low temperature, most traditionally overnight, in order to be served warm on Shabbat day for lunch. The result is is a heaping pile of delicious rice and tender, fall apart meat.
Cooking for Shabbat is not so familiar to Chef Chang and the other chefs on this episode who attempt to recreate the dish using a recipe from the Soffer family. They are bewildered by the low, slow cooking time, and concerned that it will be overcooked, sharing “there was nothing about this cooking process that wasn’t confusing.” The chefs decide to take the dish out of the oven sooner than the 6-hour recommend cooking time. Still, when they dig into this comforting dish, they are surprised and enamored with the results.
You can watch the whole episode on YouTube. It is delightful and amusing to see these chefs struggle with assembling the dish. Their skepticism around the cooking method soon becomes admiration once they give the dish a taste.
If you’re craving your own pot of t’beet, head into the kitchen and make some using Leah Koenig’s recipe ASAP.