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Chicken & Rice – How Nice December 16, 2009

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Eating Down the Fridge, Food, random stuff.
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We like chicken (mostly).  And we like rice.  And, not surprisingly, we  like them together.

Is it exciting?  No.

Is it glamorous?  Not so much.

But can it be warm and hearty and tasty?

Oh, absolutely!

And if we want to create warm, hearty and tasty from everyday, commonplace ingredients (Like, you know, chicken.  And rice.), we look to our dear friends at Cook’s Illustrated.

They are GOOD.  And this is a recipe we come back to, which, given my fondness for trying NEW! and DIFFERENT! stuff, well, that alone is saying something, isn’t it?

PhotobucketSo we start simply – 4 chicken breasts, patted dry, seasoned with salt and pepper and dredged in plain flour.   Heat a bit of vegetable oil in a good-sized skillet (you’ll be dumping just over a quart of chicken stock in there later, so keep that in mind), heat your oil, then brown the chicken on just one side (5 minutes) and remove to a plate.

That’s right – the top of the chicken is still not cooked.  Don’t worry.

PhotobucketNow, in your already-used pan, swirl a dab of butter (off heat).  Once the butter is melted, add a minced onion and a bit of salt; cook over medium-high heat a couple of minutes, until the onion is softened.

Now stir in three (!) cloves of minced garlic and just a pinch of crushed red pepper, stirring just until the garlic is fragrant.  (Any more than that, and it’ll burn, and we don’t want that, do we?  Of course not.)

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Now comes the cool part.  Think of rice pilaf.  Think of risotto.  Think of any wonderfully savory rice-based dish you want.   Take your rice (1½ cups of it) and just dump it in the oniony, garlicky butter and stir it up until every little grain of rice is coated and it starts to toast – not long, just half a minute or so.

Then, remember the risotto part?  Stir in ½ cup of dry white wine, and let that soak into the rice for a minute or so.

PhotobucketAdd the chicken stock (or broth) (4½ cups), and stick the chicken back in the pan, cooked side up this time, being sure to dump any chicken juice that may have accumulated on the dish.

Cover the pan and cook over medium flame until the chicken is (almost) done – 160° at the thickest part of the breast – maybe 10 minutes or so, depending on how large your chicken pieces are.

Now pull the chicken out of the pan (no, the rice isn’t anywhere near done!) and set it on a clean plate (not the one with raw chicken germs!) and tent with foil.

If you’re smart, you will have washed the previous chicken plate while you were waiting and will just use that again.  Oh, and if there are any hard grains of rice stuck to the chicken?  Get rid of them.  Wipe them off with a paper towel or something.  Trust me on this.  That rice is not going to get any more cooked  sitting on that plate.

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And meanwhile, reduce the heat under the rice, cover, and let it finish cooking, another 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.  You’ll know it’s done when the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.  Pretty much the way you always know rice is done, huh?

Now, and here’s the good part, stir in a cup of frozen peas, and, if your chicken isn’t as hot as maybe you’d like it to be (after sitting on a plate on the counter for a quarter hour or so), nestle that back in with the rice too.

PhotobucketOh, and here’s a tip – if the peas are garden peas that you picked with your own two hands and froze last June, and if those peas have a few ice crystals on them, try to get rid of the ice first.  You’d be amazed by how quickly ice can bring down the temperature of rice.

Just cover the pan and let the steamy rice do the rest for a couple of minutes.  Frozen peas don’t take long, you know.

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And to serve, sprinkle with plenty of sliced scallions (like 4 or 5), a squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste, and you’re good to go.  About half an hour, start to finish.

Plus, if you’re lucky, you should have some left for lunch, too!

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