Chicken and Rice (3/52)

Everyone has a few go-to meals. You know the kind I’m talking about. These are the meals that take very little forethought or planning. The ingredients are almost always around in the refrigerator or pantry, and they take very little time to toss together. And not only are these meals easy, they’re the ones that everyone likes, so there’s next to no complaining at the end of a long day. Comfort food times ten.

Chicken and Rice fits the bill in our house.  Unlike most traditional versions, which take hours of baking in the oven or simmering in a crock pot, this one takes only about thirty minutes to pull together (if you make the chicken and rice components at the same time, which I promise isn’t difficult to do) and is made entirely from ingredients we almost always have on hand.  Without a doubt, this is one of the fastest, easiest, no-fuss recipes I have in my arsenal.

Not to mention, I can’t ignore a meal that leaves every dish, fork, and pot licked clean now can I?

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Chicken and Rice
Rice recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, episode 106; the rest is all mine, refined over time

Ingredients:
Rice:
1 cup rice
1 cup water
1 tsp. butter
½ tsp salt

Sauce:
1 can (10.75 oz) cream of chicken soup
½ cup sour cream
3/4  cup water

Chicken:
1 ½ lbs. chicken
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Directions:

Make the Rice and Sauce:

Rinse the rice in a colander or strainer to remove the excess starch; set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, combine the water,

butter,

and salt.

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat,

and then add the rice, bringing it all back to a boil.

Once rice has reached a boil, reduce the heat so the rice is at a simmer.

Cover the rice and let it cook for about 16 to 18 minutes.

It will look a little odd when it’s done—don’t worry.  Thanks to boy for his picture here.  I had to step away for a bit, so he kept an eye and ear out, and when the timer went off, he took two shots for me so that you could see what the rice looks like at this stage.

What I forgot was that he’s almost a foot shorter than I am.  I love seeing things from his perspective.

Remove it from the heat, and let it sit covered for 10 minutes so that the rice can continue steaming. When finished, remove the lid

and fluff the rice with a fork.

Then stir in the cream of chicken,

water (it’s cloudy because I filled about half of the cream of chicken can with water and then poured it into the measuring cup to get an accurate measurement for you),

and sour cream

until the mixture is combined and creamy.

Place saucepan with rice and sauce uncovered over very low heat. Stir periodically.

Make the Chicken:

Place the chicken in a zip top plastic bag, leaving just a fraction of the top open to allow air to escape.

Pound the chicken so that all pieces are about the same thickness.  I think mine was roughly an inch or so.

This just helps to ensure that the pieces cook at the same rate.

Place the chicken on a plate or in a casserole dish.  I usually set mine on some dry paper towels, but I was low on paper towels today.

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder on both sides.

Then allow it to sit for a few minutes.

At this point, you can begin preparing the rice as outlined above. Just remember to wash your hands first. 🙂

Once you’ve got the rice started, heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat—I use my cast iron skillet, but that isn’t necessary.

Dry the chicken well with another paper towel to remove any excess moisture.

Put the chicken in the hot skillet when the oil is ready—the oil should be barely shimmering.   See all the hazy, steamy loveliness?

Smoking and popping means the oil is too hot and will overcook the outside of the chicken, leaving the interior raw. No shimmering means the oil is too cold, and the chicken will become greasy from sitting in the oil too long.

Cook for approximately 5 to 7 minutes on the first side. The chicken will develop a golden brown crust.

To keep things browning evenly, I rotated each piece about 4 or 5 minutes into cooking.  See:

Then flip the chicken, and cook it for an additional 4 to 6 minutes.

When the chicken is golden brown on both sides,

remove the pan from the heat, and remove the chicken from the pan, placing it on a plate or clean cutting board.

Cover the chicken with foil and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.

Generally now is when the rice is ready to be dealt with.

Once the chicken has rested, slice it into 1 x 1 inch pieces.

It should be perfectly cooked—white meat, clear juices. If you make that first cut and it isn’t finished, don’t fret. Keep cutting.

Regardless of whether your chicken is completely cooked or not, return the skillet to the heat (don’t clean it out– you want the good crustiness that’s still in the pan)

and then return the chicken chunks to the hot skillet, tossing the chicken just until it’s brown on all sides (if it was already completely cooked) or until the chicken is cooked through (if it was still a little on the undercooked side).

Pour the rice and sauce (which should be simmering over low heat by now)

over the chicken and stir.

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All you have to do now is serve it up.

Put it in a serving bowl or scoop it straight from the skillet—whatever floats your boat.

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Yield: 4-8 servings; this feeds our family of four with no leftovers, and everyone has seconds

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