It has been quite a weekend here at Casa Madera; 2 days of shop till you drop action, a baking marathon on Friday, my office Christmas party on Saturday night, and actually remembering to get our donation of a basket of goodies off for some deserving senior to its drop point before the deadline!
This whirlwind of activity finally caught up with us about 5pm tonight when we realized we were too tired to BBQ the chicken as planned. I know, its a little thing, but neither of us were sure we could stay awake until the charcoal was ready. We could have ordered pizza, or made do by eating all those cookies baked on Friday, except that we had already thawed the chicken, and didn’t want to hold it over for another day. Besides all that, at this point in the Christmas Crush, the last thing I wanted was another restaurant or fast food meal.
Enter the Chicken and Rice Casserole! It comes together quickly, can be done stovetop and will be ready in about 45 minutes. Added bonus – there is only 1 pot to wash! The key to this recipe to salt each component of the dish, as you go, tasting frequently to be sure you don’t over-salt. Without enough salt, this can be a bland dish, but with too much…well, you know.
This recipe serves 4.
Chicken and Rice Casserole
4 chicken legs, thighs attached or 1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces
2 Tablespoons oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4″ pieces
1 tomato, diced
1 green pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/8 to 1 whole jalepeno pepper, thinly sliced (optional) The level of heat in this dish is will depend on how many slices of jalepeno you add to the pot. We like just a little zing and use only 2 – 3 slices.
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 cup long grain white rice
2 cups water or chicken stock
3/4 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
1 large saucepan, with high sides, at least 3 inches deep, or a dutch oven.
Cut the legs and thighs apart so you have 8 individual pieces. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in sauce pan over medium high heat, and brown chicken on both sides, 8 – 10 minutes. Work in batches if needed to avoid over crowding the chicken. Remove from pan to bowl and keep warm.
Remove all but 3 tablespoons of oil from pan, reduce heat to medium and add onions and sprinkle lightly with salt. Saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add celery, tomato, green pepper, and jalepeno if using. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Cook , stirring, 1 minute. Add garlic, tomato paste and tumeric, stir for another minute to mix well.
Stir in rice and water, check for seasoning, add salt and pepper to suit your taste. Add chicken, and any juices from bottom of the bowl. Nestle chicken pieces into the rice, bringing as much rice as possible up around the chicken. You don’t want the chicken just sitting on top of the rice. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to very low, cover and simmer until water is absorbed and rice is done. 20 – 30 minutes.
Remove from heat. Sprinkle frozen peas over top, cover and let stand 10 minutes before serving.