To the best of my knowledge, Hawaiian Haystacks are not a thing in Rhode Island…although really, I’m only basing that on the fact that I sure never had them growing up. (RI friends, were you having them on a regular basis?) I didn’t have them until I moved to Utah, and I didn’t make them myself until the last year or two, when I had a small amount of cooked chicken left over and was trying desperately to turn it into a dinner plan. At which point my friend that I used to cook with a lot suggested I make Mel’s recipe for Hawaiian Haystacks, which is really just a recipe for the chicken sauce, since everything else is a topping. I thought to myself, hey, why not, and there it was–a new staple at our house. I love it. I mix white and brown rice for the base, and after the chicken sauce, we top ours with grated medium or sharp cheddar, crushed pineapple, chopped celery, chopped tomatoes, chopped olives (for those of us who prefer olives), chopped green onion (ditto), and coconut (of the shredded and sweetened variety). My girls, I think, would prefer that I buy chow mein noodles, which Grandma has on her haystacks, but I confess–since I don’t miss them, I haven’t gotten around to it yet. (Sorry, kiddos.)
A word about the chicken, though. My leftover chicken didn’t provide nearly as much flavor as either 1)using raw chicken and following Mel’s directions for cooking it as part of the sauce or 2)buying a rotisserie chicken at Costco and using the entire breast for one recipe. I usually go for number 2, ever since I figured out that my 1st grader loves the dark meat from said rotisserie chicken on sandwiches in her lunch (with mayo, lettuce and tomato, or, if you happen to be out of lettuce like I was this morning, mayo and bread and butter pickles). Grilled chicken would, I’m sure, also be delightful, but not the sad, poached, “I need chicken cooked quickly for a recipe” chicken I had way back when. (I’m a bit better with plain cooked chicken now.)
Anyway. I love haystacks and they go over well with all of my kiddos; if you use rice flour for the roux, this recipe is also easily gluten-free!