Every-color Rice with Chicken

Do you ever have one of those days where you want something warm and comforting, but you just do not seem to have the fuel your body needs for a big meal?  So do I and today was one of those days.  I needed a food-hug to get through the day, so I decided to make a spin-off of a meal my momma used to make.

This meal is not only colorful, it’s delicious.  This is an awesome way to sneak veggies into your meal in a soothing way.  You can also adjust this recipe for nearly endless variations which makes it a great staple in your book of recipes.

I used two pots today, but you can just as easily use one very successfully.  If you use one pot, then you get all the delicious, caramelized chicken bits and pieces in your rice dish – a real benefit.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken, uncooked, cut into tenderloin sized-pieces.  Breast or thigh.
  • One package of “yellow rice”**
  • One cup or small can of black olives.
  • One handful or a cup of frozen peas.
  • One handful or a cup of frozen or fresh peppers.*
  • Various seasonings.  My favorites are garlic powder (not salt), Lawry seasoned salt, salt & pepper
  • Olive oil
  • One medium  or small yellow onions.
  • Two to four garlic cloves (optional if you have garlic powder around).

Some ingredient notes:

*On peppers, the more colors the merrier.  I look for sales on  the red/orange/yellow peppers because they add sweetness and color to a dish.  There are also bags of frozen strips of tri-colored peppers in some grocery stores.  These are an inexpensive way to keep beautiful and delicious peppers available at all times for your dishes.  Just a little handful adds a ton of beauty to a dish.

**Yes, there really is a product called “yellow rice”.  You can also make this with regular rice and saffron, but I’m a lazy creature by nature and the package takes a whole lot of work out of this dish.  You can also use white rice, but really – the color of yellow rice is absolutely stunning – a perfect foil for all those pretty colors you’re going to throw in.

Preparing ahead of time takes away some of the pressure.

I like to have as much of my cooking goodies ready ahead of time so that I can just throw ingredients into the pan like some mad scientist!  If you are like me, then go ahead and slice up your onion into medium-thin slices, slice your olives in half if they’re whole, chop up some garlic into tiny dices.

Cook the chicken first.

The first task at hand is to get your chicken going and pretty and colorful!  I give you the option of using either breast meat or thighs.  I confess:  I used to think that chicken thighs were the worst thing ever.  In fact, I told my boyfriend that I never eat chicken thighs and I sure didn’t intend to start.  Yeah, I’m that hard headed.   Every once in a while, however, something will get through my thick skull and makes its way into my thinking process and this time it was chicken thighs.

Chicken thighs are really flavorful in a dish like this where the juices and flavors of the thigh will be cooked into the dish as a whole.  I really feel that thighs are the way to go for this dish because of a certain richness they add without being overpowering.  That being said, feel free to use breasts if you like them better.  I recommend having them cut into tender-sized pieces no matter what you choose.

Heat up your pan and, when hot, add a little bit of olive oil into the pan – just a bit.  I usually make an S-shaped swirl.  This gives you enough lubrication for your chicken without weighing down the dish.

Season both sides of your washed and dried chicken with generous amounts of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a little Lawry’s Seasoned Salt or similar product.  When your oil is hot enough and the top of it isn’t smooth but is dimpling a little, then go ahead and set your chicken pieces down in that oil.

Did you know foods have personal-space preferences?

Remember, all foods have their own sense of personal space.  Some foods like onions and other vegetables are social creatures and don’t mind being heaped up all in one pile.  Meats and mushrooms, on the other hand, like a little personal space.  Give the pieces enough space around them to where they don’t necessarily touch.  You’ll find that they always color up and cook a lot more happily.  Happy food makes happy tummies, and I’m all about the happy tummy!

So nestle those chicken pieces on into your beautiful olive oil and listen to them sizzle.  Give each one a little wiggle so that some of your olive oil gets beneath them so that they brown better and stick less.  A little sticking is perfectly fine; every little piece that sticks and really browns is going to enhance your dish in the end.  So don’t sweat the small stuff.

Developing color and moisture in the chicken pot.

The temperature should be medium-hot.  The goal is to let the chicken get colored up on one side to where you have a beautiful browned and interesting surface.  This also sears in juices, so resist the urge to poke and worry the chicken.  It knows what it’s doing; let it be.

If you’re new to cooking, just take a peek now and again by lifting the chicken pieces and looking under them.  If the chicken looks pale, it’s not ready to be turned.  Wait til it’s something you’d want to see on your plate before turning it over.

When your chicken are pretty and colorful, go ahead and give them all a flip.  Remember to wiggle them so that they don’t stick.  Then let the other side color up.

When the chicken is nearly the color you want, I throw in the pieces of bell peppers with the chickens so that they can warm up.

When your chicken is done, take the chicken and peppers and set aside.

Two-pan method versus the one-pan method

Two pan method:  while the chicken is cooking, go ahead and saute some onions in a pre-heated pan into which you’ve added olive oil (again, an S-shape) which you’ve also heated up.  I like to throw a little Italian seasoning over my onions as they cook.  If you’re using garlic, throw those in when the onions are nearly done and just browning.  If not, then put your garlic powder in when you put the onions in; seasoning them before they’ve released their moisture helps distribute the seasoning flavors throughout your onions.

One pan method: when the chicken is removed from the pot, throw the onions in and cook as in the two-pan method.

Prepare the onions and rice.

Either way:  cook the onions until they have sweated out a lot of their moisture, but are still retaining their shape.  They should be a little soft and nicely browned without being completely caramelized.

When the onions are done, pour 2 and 1/2 cups of hot water into the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Once the water is boiling vigorously, not just little bubbles… (I know, it’s very hard to wait for that moment) then pour in your yellow rice.  Stir and continue to boil the rice/water/onion mixture for one minute.

NOTICE: Most packages or  yellow rice are the same; however, if your rice calls for less or more water – then use the amount recommended on the package.

My stove tends to stay really hot so I’ll actually turn my  heat down to 2 or simmer when I’ve added the rice.  In my case, the water will continue to boil as I stir it and stirring it helps it come down to a simmer temperature.  You can try this as well so you don’t scorch your rice.

Stirring at this point helps you to keep the rice moving around and not sticking to the bottom of the pan.  The olive oil in which you cooked stuff helps, too.  If you are using the one-pan method, use this time to scrape all the good chicken bits from the bottom and into the boiling water.  That’s the good stuff!

Put everything together.

After your minute has passed, take your chicken and nestle the pieces into the water-covered rice.  Make sure that all the pepper pieces go as well.  Then dump your frozen peas and black olives on top.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes without stirring, or until all of the water is absorbed into the rice.

Finish your beautiful dish.

When you see all the water is absorbed, take the pot off of the heat.  Add two pats of butter and give the whole gorgeous thing a good stir.  Enjoy the beautiful yellow, red, green, orange, and black colors in your beautiful yellow rice.  Don’t forget to take a nice deep smell of this super-comforting dish.  It really smells like home and happiness and love and chickeny-goodness!

IMG_0452

Serve up a heaping dish for yourself and your family and enjoy!

Every-color rice and chicken.

Every-color rice and chicken.

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