Not Your Momma’s Chicken and Rice

Not Your Momma’s Chicken and Rice

I was in the mood for chicken and rice last week but wanted a healthier option than I grew up with as a kid. I looked through my pantry and fridge for what I had on hand and typed a few of my available ingredients into Bing. Batta-boom. Chipotle Braised Chicken and Rice with Zucchini courtesy of Epicurious was just what the doctor ordered. I have included a link to the original recipes. I made a few twists and turns of my own. If you give it a try, let me know what adaptations you make!

Chipotle and Ancho Braised Chicken

Ingredients

1/2 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leafs
1 T butter
salt
pepper
1 1/2 T olive oil, divided
3-4 pounds chicken quarters
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili pepper
1 cup homemade chicken stock
1 T fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

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Cook onion, garlic, and bay leaf in butter and 1/2 tablespoon oil with 1/8 teaspoon salt in a skillet over medium heat until onion starts to cook down and caramelize, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

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Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken in remaining tablespoon oil in and transfer to a plate.

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Stir in chile powders and onion mixture into pan and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add stock and simmer.

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Place chicken back in, and ladle some of the onions and broth over each piece. Cover and look on low 25-30 minutes. Turn once or twice to get flavor over entire pieces. Transfer chicken and onions with a slotted spoon to a platter. Skim off and discard fat from sauce, then boil until slightly thickened. Stir in lime juice and cilantro and spoon sauce over chicken.

Zucchini Rice

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice
1 3/4 cups cold water
3 T vegetable oil, divided
1 T coriander seeds, slightly crushed
1/4 teaspoon cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium zucchini cut into 1/2-inch rounds, then quartered
1/2 cup chopped mixed cilantro, parsley, and mint
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup pecans toasted and coarsely chopped

Directions

Cook rice and water with 1 T oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 50 minutes. Place in bowl to cool down.

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Saute coriander and cumin in 2 T oil in skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes.

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Add garlic, zucchini, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Saute until zucchini is crisp-tender, and slightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

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Toss zucchini with rice, chopped herb mixture, lemon juice, pecans, and salt and pepper to taste.

This made a delicious and healthy dinner if I do say so myself. I hope you will share your favorite chicken and rice dish! Please leave a comment and remember to friend me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/brad.nierenberg.9 and Twitter https://twitter.com/GourmandBrad

Buon appetito!

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My Risotto Rocks!

My Risotto Rocks!

I know that when you read the word “risotto,” your brain says, “I love it, but who has time for that?” Trust me, I know! All that stirring eats up a chunk of time and patience. But oh, it is so worth the trouble!

If you were hoping for a recipe with carefully measured ingredients, I am sorry to disappoint. I’ve never really used a recipe for risotto. Instead, I just make it by sight, texture, and taste. You can look up a basic recipe someplace else. But I bet if you let go of your measuring cups, it will be a lot more fun!

Ingredients:

Butter
Olive oil
Arborio rice
White wine or champagne
Chicken stock
Chicken boullion
Onion or shallot, finely chopped
Heavy cream
Parmesan cheese

Whatever you want to mix in. I used mild Italian turkey sausage and diced red bell pepper. You could try anything. I also like sauteed mushrooms, roasted root vegetables, sausage and pear with Gorgonzola, leeks and peas, shrimp, asparagus…the possibilities are endless!

Preparation:

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Start by warming your chicken stock. If you don’t have any on hand, now would be a good time to start a batch. I made this stock as I was prepping the risotto then just strained it as I used it.

Remove the casings from your sausage and saute, breaking up as you go, in a separate pan. Chop the bell pepper and add that to the sausage after it is browned. Cook long enough to take the crunch out of the pepper. (Tip: If you are using a different add-in, prepare it in a separate pan as well.)

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In the meantime, dice some onion and saute it in a pan of equal parts melted butter and olive oil. I used roughly 2 Tbsp of each.

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Add your rice and toast for a few minutes more. (Tip: I added 2 cups of rice.) Turn up your heat to medium high.

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Add a splash of wine or champagne to the rice and onions, about 1/2 cup or so. Once that boils out a bit, start adding your warmed stock one ladle at a time. Cook each ladle-full down before adding the next.

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I have no idea how much liquid you will add. It depends upon how done you like your rice. You will notice it start to get creamy and puff up. Taste it after about 15-20 minutes, then continue to taste often for doneness as you get near the end. I also added one Knorr chicken bouillon cube since the chicken stock is salt free.

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Just before it is finished, add your mix-ins and fold them in. At this point I add about a quarter to half cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a splash of heavy cream. Some folks add a bit of butter too. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Plate it up, add more cheese, and serve immediately!

What do you like in your risotto? Please leave a comment below and share your favorite concoction!

Flashback to My Youth: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Flashback to My Youth: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers were regular fare on the dinner table growing up. They’re one of those meals you can make on a budget and don’t take much time. You can freeze them too which is always a bonus!

I was craving them over the weekend after scoring a big bag of red bell peppers for just $4.99. I’m pretty sure this was a pricing error since individual peppers were selling for $1.99 each and there were seven of those beauties in the bag. I’m wondering now why I only grabbed one bag!

Ingredients

1 pound ground turkey (or beef)

2 cups rice (cooked – I used rice cooker)

5-6 bell peppers (cut off tops and clean out)

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp thyme

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup onion (diced)

1 egg, beaten

24 oz. can tomato sauce or puree

3 Tbs. brown sugar

3 Tbs lemon juice or vinegar

Directions

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Clean out bell peppers. (Save insides and tops for future chicken stock.)

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Cook rice and cool. Mix rice, ground turkey, onion, seasonings, water.

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Combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Add 1/2-1 cup to meat and rice mixture and stir to incorporate.

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Fill each pepper. Place right side up in baking dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over the top of each pepper.

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Bake covered at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour. (I usually uncover for last 10-15 minutes.)

What dish do you remember from your youth? Would love to get your feedback along with a link to the recipe. Or, if you have a different version of stuffed peppers, please share it!