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The first three Foreigner albums played major roles in the soundtrack for my midwest high school years. I was that guy with a Rally Sport Camaro, windows down, driving along the streets of Flint, MI singing “Cold As Ice” off-key and not giving a single fuck. I’m fairly sure I saw them live at least twice. I might have even bought the tour t-shirts. (Honestly, my high school years are a bit fuzzy because, well, the ’70s.) I have a preference for their self-titled debut, but there are a couple of decent tracks on their second and third releases. “Dirty White Boy” is my favorite Head Games track and honestly after this album Foreigner was kinda dead to me. I mean, come on, “JUKEBOX HERO”!!??!! Are you fricking kidding me?
This is a sandwich 6 years in the making.
I once ran a BBQ joint in a rock bar in Brooklyn. That’s where I really started this obsession with music & food names. When planning the menu, I went all-in on the rock theme puns and continued when adding new items and running specials. One of our regular sides was Dirty Rice. So when I asked my crew to come up with some specials, my sous chef tossed out “Dirty Rice Boy” – a po’boy made with our smoked turkey & dirty rice. Unfortunately, we never actually got around to making that special, but I kept the pun in my notebook.
I ended up running a few other kitchens over the years always thinking I’d finally make this sandwich, but for various reasons never did. So when I decided to start the Music & Food project, this was top on the list. I’ve swapped out the traditional Dirty Rice for a vegetarian version. The turkey gets swapped for roasted chicken breast or thigh.
When I first started work on this sandwich, I chose to go with a traditional Cajun-style rub, specifically the Born On The Bayou rub from The Cha Cha Hut Cookbook. That rub started out with a base of Old Bay seasoning jacked up with spices and aromatics. As I was looking to sell that rub at the Hut, I came up with my own version of Old Bay for the base. That resulted in a great and original rub that also has WAY too many ingredients. So, I opted to return to the original Hut “Cajun” rub and in keeping with the Foreigner theme here now call it Hot Blooded (Chicken & Sea) Seasoning. (Yes, that may be one of my most labored music food puns.) As the name suggests, it’s a perfect seasoning for poultry and seafood. It is definitely not a traditional Cajun blackened-style seasoning, but it will get you a nice char and a bit of heat.
As the chicken will be roasting in the oven, you’ll not have the usual weaponized seasoning issues that can occur with blackened Cajun cooking. This chicken is also perfectly suited to the grill if you have that option. Use direct heat to crisp the thigh skin or sear the breast then move to indirect heat to finish roasting.
You’ll end up with leftover rice and extra chicken (unless you make more than two sandwiches). I recommend chopping up the chicken, re-heating it with some rice, and wrapping in tortillas for some killer tacos or burritos.
DIRTY RICE BOY
Hot Blooded Chicken, Kinda Like Dirty Rice, BBQ sauce, Rock Candy Jalapenos & scallion on a sub roll
Makes 2 sandwiches
1 Hot Blooded Chicken (about 8 ounces), sliced (see recipe below)
1 cup Kinda Like Dirty Rice (see recipe below)
3 tablespoons Sweet Lightnin’ BBQ Sauce
Rock Candy Jalapenos
1 scallion, sliced thin
2 sub rolls
Slice sub roll open taking care not to cut completely apart.
Place a skillet over medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the sliced chicken breast and the BBQ sauce. Saute until the chicken gets a bit caramelized with sauce. Add the cup of Kinda Like Dirty Rice and mix to thoroughly combine. Saute for a couple of minutes to get everything crispy and caramelized with sauce.
Spread some BBQ sauce on the inside of each sub roll. Divide the chicken and rice mixture between the sub rolls. Top with scallions and a few Rock Candy Jalapenos. Drizzle a bit of hot sauce on top if you want it extra spicy.
HOT BLOODED (CHICKEN & SEA) SEASONING
2 tablespoons Old Bay
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon thyme
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. This will make more rub than needed for this recipe so keep the leftovers in an airtight container. In addition to chicken, this rub is an excellent seasoning for fish and shrimp.
HOT BLOODED CHICKEN BREAST
2-pound skinless boneless chicken breast (though you could use skin-on thighs)
4 tablespoons Hot Blooded (Chicken & Sea) Seasoning
Liberally season all sides of chicken with the seasoning and set aside.
I prefer to grill this chicken over charcoal but it tastes just as great done in the oven. So, I’m going to give you both of my cooking methods.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate.
Place the breasts directly over the charcoal and grill for 7 minutes or until they take on a nice char but are not burnt. Flip chicken and cook for another 7 minutes. Check for an internal temperature of 150°F with an instant-read thermometer. If they are below this temperature, place the breasts on the cool side of the grill with the thickest part facing the charcoal. Cover with the vent holes over the chicken, and let cook for 10 minutes more. Keep checking the temperature until chicken reaches 150°F. Remove from grill, place on a plate, and cover with foil. Let rest 10 minutes.
2 tablespoons butter
Cast iron pan (or oven proof pan)
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
Melt butter in a pan. Once butter is melted & foaming, add chicken – top side down (the side that used to have skin) – and cook until lightly charred – about 5 minutes. Flip chicken and brown for another 3 minutes. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 150°F. Take out of the oven – tent with foil and let rest 15 minutes.
KINDA LIKE DIRTY RICE
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced fine
1 medium green pepper, diced medium
1 medium red pepper, diced medium
1 jalapeno, diced fine
2 ribs celery, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions sliced thin, whites & greens separated
2 teaspoon Hot Blooded (Chicken & Sea) seasoning
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 15oz can red kidney beans, drained but not rinsed
1 cup vegetable broth
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil and then add the onion, scallions whites, peppers, celery, garlic, Hot Blooded seasoning, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook until tender-crisp and heated through, about 5 minutes.
Next, stir in the red kidney beans and the vegetable broth, combining well, then stir in the brown rice.
Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer at least ten minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to add a bit more liquid to keep the rice from burning.
Remove the rice from heat and add in the scallion greens and stir to combine.