Tuesday, December 9, 2014

At Home: Baked Chicken & Rice

Early on, when Keith and I first started dating, Keith made one of his grandmother's classic comfort dishes for me - Baked Chicken & Rice. I admit, I was not a fan at first, mainly because the recipe included peas - and I abhor peas.  Years later, Keith wanted to recreate the dish...At Home, and replaced the peas with other veggies like bell peppers and mushrooms.  With the addition of beer to accentuate the caramelization of the baked chicken, this dish is homey and a great baked dish to make for your family this Winter.

Grandma Olga's Chicken & Rice (Serves 6)
  • 4 chicken thighs + 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 cups rice, slightly undercooked
  • 1 green bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped finely
  • ½ lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ bottle of beer
  • ½ cup of half & half
  • 1 can of plain tomato sauce
  • ½ teasp garlic
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste 

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic and roast in a large, deep pan for 20 minutes, until brown.  
- On the stove top, in a large pan, saute onions, bell pepper, mushrooms in butter until softened.
- Add in beer, half & half, and tomato sauce, stirring to combine.  Bring to a low simmer.
- Once chicken is ready, top with the cooked rice and pour the liquid all over the chicken and rice, using a wooden spoon to evenly distribute.
- Lower oven to 375 degrees, and bake for 15 minutes, covered with aluminum foil.
- Finish in the oven, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.

The extra liquid helps finish cooking both the chicken and rice as it bakes, so it is important to use undercooked rice, or the dish will be too mushy.  The beer flavor really came through, and the chicken was nicely seasoned and remained juicy.  Keith describes this dish that his grandmother made as a Polish paella, since the rice is slightly browned and crispy on the bottom. Next time, he may even add in shrimp and sausage to make it even more paella-like.  Regardless, this casserole made enough servings to leave us leftovers for days.

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