Skillet Lemon-Herb Chicken and Rice
There’s always room in our cooking arsenal for one more one-pot meal. This chicken and rice dish is as flavorful as it is colorful.
I don’t know when I became so accident-prone. Little mishaps seem to find me lately…or maybe I should call them missteps. It might have started two winters ago. I fractured my left foot in two places while carrying a box of Christmas ornaments from my garage to my living room. I didn’t fall. I stepped on the threshold of my garage at the wrong angle and a metatarsal bone cracked from the pressure and weight of the box I was easing out of the doorway. I was out of commission for eight weeks with an additional five weeks of physical therapy after that.
This past June, in Paris, I stubbed my toe hard on the wooden bench at the foot of my hotel bed as I walked back in the dark after a midnight visit to le toilette. I hit my little toe so hard I thought I might have broken it. Thankfully, I was spared a second bone break but I had to sacrifice a toe nail in the process.
And while in Maui just last weekend I slipped and fell hard at the lobby of my hotel. I walked out of the elevator headed for the resort’s workout room when, after a few steps, whoosh then splat! It happened so fast that I had to remain on the floor for a few moments to process what happened. I was wearing running shoes and the floor wasn’t wet but it was as if a rug had been pulled from under me. My elevator mates were quite concerned and I shrugged it off thinking that my dignity had been battered more than my body but I’ve been sporting a nice, big colorful souvenir on my hip from that fall and the rest of my body’s still feeling a little creaky one week later.
My husband has always complimented me on being coordinated but I’m beginning to rethink this idea. Wouldn’t you?
When it comes to accidents, I much prefer the accidental kind, particularly if the most pain I can expect is a tummy ache from eating too much of a good thing.
I threw together this one-pot dish while in Maui this past February and we loved it. We stay at condominium-hotel type lodgings on the island and we frequently eat in. My Maui pantry stays on the lean side, though, as I plan only one to two meals in advance and shop accordingly, keeping the spices and extra items to a minimum . But on this particular trip the hodge podge of extras that remained at the end of our holiday made for an unexpectedly nice clean-out-the-fridge meal.
There are thousands of recipes on the web for one-pot chicken and rice but apart from paella I can’t think of another dish in the L+A archives that comes close. The stars here are the bold lemon flavor, the generous use of dried herbs (courtesy of a jar of Frontier Co-op Organic Italian Seasoning with Oregano left behind by the previous guests) and a lively kick from Crystal Hot Sauce (a grocery staple for me). You can see how much color the white rice picks up from browning the marinated chicken in the skillet and adding back the marinade as the rice cooks to add even more punch. All that color equals flavor.
The best part is the flexibility of this recipe. I’ve prepared this a handful of times now, each time forgetting one ingredient or another, but it always turns out beautifully. My original recipe included yellow bell peppers but I forgot them this time. You can skip the butter if you’re inclined to. Add chopped kale and stir fry with leftovers the next day but don’t leave out the tomatoes or skimp on the lemons and I strongly recommend the Crystal hot sauce. These are the ingredients that elevate this dish from simple to special and one I can’t help but fall for.
Skillet Lemon-Herb Chicken and Rice
There's always room in our cooking arsenal for one more one-pot meal. This colorful chicken and rice dish is as flavorful as it is colorful.
Marinade (You will need to set aside the marinade to add later)
- 3 medium lemons or 2 1/2 large
- Zest of one lemon
- 1-2 tbsp fish sauce or to taste
- 1 tbsp Frontier Co-op Italian Seasoning with Oregano or your favorite herb seasoning
- 1 tbsp granulated garlic
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- Few dashes Crystal Hot sauce
- 4 chicken thighs
- 2 chicken breast halves
- 1 3/4 cups white rice not quick cooking
- 1 1/2 cups liquid I like half chicken stock and half water
- 8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 bell pepper, diced optional
- 4 stalks green onions, chopped optional
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp olive oil for browning chicken
- More Italian seasoning, hot sauce and/or granulated garlic optional
Combine the chicken and marinade ingredients in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes up to several hours.
In a large cast iron skillet (or pot) heat the butter (if using) along with 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides, reserving the marinade for use later. This will take 3-4 minutes for each side. While browning the chicken I like to add a few more dashes each of Italian seasoning, hot sauce and granulated garlic but you can skip this step.
When the chicken pieces have browned, remove them from the skillet and set aside. If too much oil and/or chicken juices have settled in the skillet you can pour off most of it, leaving most of the flavorful bits and just enough oil for the rice. (Alternatively, you can leave all the liquid in the skillet--this may just make for a bit oilier finished dish than you might prefer.)
Add the uncooked rice and stir in the pan to collect the browned bits at the bottom of the skillet, one to two minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook for an additional minute. The rice will pick up a lot of color during this time. Add the liquid (stock and/or water) and the reserved marinade (should be about 1/2 cup) for a total of two cups of liquid to cook the rice. Bring the liquid to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer then add back the chicken, arranging the pieces on top of the rice. Cover and simmer for five minutes then add the bell pepper and half of the green onions (if using). Cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes, checking for doneness at the 10 minute mark. If all the liquid is absorbed before the rice is cooked, add more liquid in 1/4 cup increments (you shouldn't need more than an additional half cup).
Garnish with lemon wedges and the remaining green onions and serve warm.