From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...There are certain dishes that seem to withstand the tests of time and fashion. This homely, old-fashioned favorite is one of them. Every country that the Silver Fox and I have visited, has a version of chicken and rice. There is something about it that's restorative and it brings back memories of dinner at grandma's kitchen table. It is a simple dish that is easy to prepare. It is inexpensive to make, and if you have never had it, you owe it to yourself to try it at least once. The version I'm featuring tonight was created by Mark Bittman and his recipe makes easy work of its preparation. My only caution is to make sure that the skillet you use is deep enough to hold the chicken without it hitting the lid of your pan. You can change the type of rice, as well as the liquid you use, with no adverse affects. The saffron in the recipe is a completely optional ingredient but it makes an awfully nice addition to this dish. You will have to keep an eye on the rice and the times suggested in the recipe should be taken with a grain of salt. Mine took an additional 20 minutes to cook. This is one of those recipes that is easy to make your own, so don't be afraid to swap or add ingredients that you enjoy. Here is Mark Bittman's version of the dish.
Chicken and Rice...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Mark Bittman
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole cut-up chicken or about 3 pounds parts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups short-grain white rice
Pinch saffron threads, optional
3 1/2 cups water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock, or more as needed
1 cup peas (frozen are fine; no need to thaw them)
2 limes, quartered, for serving
1) Put oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add chicken, skin side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, undisturbed but adjusting heat so chicken sizzles but doesn't burn, until pieces release easily from the pan, 5 to 10 minutes. Then turn and rotate them every few minutes to brown them evenly. As chicken pieces brown, after another 5 to 10 minutes, remove them from pan.
2) Reduce heat under skillet to medium and pour or spoon off most of oil so that only 2 tablespoons remain. Add onions to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until they soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and rice; cook, stirring, until rice is glossy and coated with oil. Crumble in saffron threads if you're using them.
3) Return chicken to pan, add water, and stir gently to combine everything. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat so it bubbles gently but steadily. Cover skillet and cook, undisturbed, for 20 minutes, then check rice and chicken. The goal is to have liquid absorbed, the rice tender, and the chicken cooked through. If rice is dry but nothing else is ready, add another 1/4 cup water and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Meat is done when a quick-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh reads 155-165 degrees F.
4) Remove skillet from heat. Taste rice and adjust seasoning. Add peas, then cover the pan again and let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes. Fish chicken out of pan and transfer it to a serving platter. Fluff rice with a fork, spoon it around chicken, add lime wedges, and serve. Yield: 4 servings.
Mark Bittman's Tips:
. Saffron (as you probably know if you're using it) is not cheap. Fortunately a little goes a long way.
. Don't be intimidated by cooking chicken and rice in the same pan. It's no harder than cooking either ingredient on its own. You may need to monitor the moisture in the pan toward the end of cooking, but as long as you resist the urge to uncover the skillet and stir, it will come out great.
. Short-grain rice is classic here, but if you like rice less sticky and more fluffy, use long-grain rice. You'll probably need to add the extra liquid in Step 3.
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