Detox Resolution Recipe Series: Using whole grains, vegetables, lean meats and healthier fats in recipes you may find taste really good!
Chicken and rice. I know. It sounds like a fifties comfort food recipe: Combine 1 can of creamed soup with chicken, add instant rice and bake until done. Although the following (absurdly delicious) recipe is a far cry from kitchy Americana, all of the best “Chicken and Rice” names have been taken.
Like an expectant mother reviewing her “Name Your Baby” book, dismayed that family and friends have beaten her to the punch, grabbing her favorite names for their offspring; I’ve tortured myself with a similar angst prior to naming this recipe.
An international sampling of names for “Chicken and Rice” based dishes have such a romantic undulation when spoken aloud. The Spaniard’s “Arroz con Pollo“, the Italian’s “Risotto con il Pollo”, or the classic Indian “Chicken Biryani“, are such deliciously edible words, how could their dishes be less than outstanding?
Varietals of native rice are generally the expected grains used in these classic dishes. I adore these rices and harbor no vendetta towards their unique properties and pearly goodness. I am, however, dead-set on using Uncle Ben’s brown rice with my interpretation of Arroz con Pollo, so will not borrow the classic Spanish name for this recipe.
Choice of rice is a “biggie”, in defining a national rice-based dish. Using Uncle Ben’s whole grain brown rice, instead of a Valencia or Calasparra rice, and labelling it “Arroz con Pollo”, could be construed as heresy. Akin, perhaps, to texting friends while sandwiched in a procession of reverent Spaniards during La Marcha Real, the Spanish national anthem.
Different rice varietals, as well, have different cooking techniques to yield the unique desired result. Many require several soaks and washes. Some grains insist upon a sauté in fat with hot broth slowly added. All delicious! Many rice-based dishes are sacrosanct. I would only, for example, use the starchy, short-grained Po Valley, Arborio rice for risotto. But I find, in this recipe, Uncle Ben’s brown rice is healthy, easy to find, user-friendly, and provides a toothsome texture with clearly defined grains.
In this “Chicken and Rice” recipe, the rice is negotiable but for maximum flavor, I highly advise seeking out authentic Smoked Spanish Paprika, available at many groceries around town. You can purchase this in a variety of heat levels. I prefer mild or medium-hot paprika and adjust the heat level of a particular recipe with additional pepper.
I like to cook chicken, especially in dishes such as this, with the skin and bone attached. To reduce fat, however, the skin may be removed before sautéing. I strike a compromise, enjoying the extra flavor the skin and bone lend to the chicken and rice while simmering, but remove the skin before eating.