Friday, June 30, 2006

Chile Chicken Pilaf

My plans to use the leftover cabbage from the okonomiyaki in a stir fry fell by the wayside after I learned a sad lesson. When you only use half of a slab of tofu, you should put the rest back in water before putting it in the fridge or it will get all slimy on you. It made me sad because I had big plans not only for the cabbage, but also for the broccoli I had bought. Major bummer. And major change in plans. Knowing I needed some kind of protein, I took a package of four drumsticks out of the freezer and put them in the fridge to start thawing.

So, what to do with the stir-fry veggies? I had some beautiful heads of broccoli I got on sale. My first thought was to just cook them up with the chicken and pasta using my new absorption method, but my mind kept going back to broccoli and rice. We used to make some godawful-for-you but pretty tasty at the time casseroles where you put chicken, broccoli, and rice in a dish and pour cans of cream of mushroom and/or cream of celery soup over them, add cheese, and bake for an hour. So when I think of chicken and broccoli, rice almost always comes up as the obvous companion.

But I'm not really eating cheese these days and I'm definitely not using processed cans of cream-of-anything, so I tried to think of something that would be a little healthier without sacrificing taste. And as I was thinking of possibilities for combining the ingredients, I was also thinking of what method I was going to use to prepare it. Even though we've been really lucky this summer and it hasn't been too hot, I'd still rather not use my oven. So I started thinking about that old stovetop Spanish rice and pork chop recipe I used to make, and realized it could be adapted pretty easily for what I was trying to do here.

So how did it turn out? Ay caramba! Que deliciosa! I've created a real winner, if I do say so myself. The chiles add a delicate hint of sweetness that is immediately counteracted by the spicy cayenne. All of the flavors go well together without any getting lost. I plan to make this often.

I'm calling it Chile Chicken Pilaf. (That's Aioli Potato Salad sitting on the plate next to the pilaf. You'll be reading more about that later.)
Chile Chicken Pilaf

4 chicken drumsticks
water to cover
2 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of cayenne
2 carrots, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup uncooked brown rice, rinsed
4 cups broccoli florets
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained, with juice reserved
1 4-oz. can mild chopped chiles
salt and pepper to taste

Skin drumsticks and place in pan in cold water. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Separate the meat from the bones and set aside. Combine the stock with the drained tomato juice to make 2 cups' worth. (The rest of the stock can be frozen for later use.)

In a large saucepan heat oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots and saute for 1 minute. Add onions and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add rice and saute, stirring constantly, for 2 more minutes. Add tomato/chicken stock, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.

While rice is simmering, cut chicken into bite-size pieces. After the rice has cooked for the 40 minutes, add the chicken. Cover the rice again and simmer for another 25 minutes. Add broccoli florets and more water, if necessary. Simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for five minutes. Stir everything together and serve.

Serves 4.
For the What's in Your Pantry section:

What I already had on hand:

Chicken drumsticks
olive oil
brown rice
14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper

What I bought:


Tomorrow: How I used the rest of the cabbage.

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