This easy chicken and rice pilaf is a fantastic way to raise your dinner time game. Packed with spices, the rice and chicken tantalize all our senses, transporting us to exotic lands and sparking our imagination.
This recipe merges the flavors and techniques often used in pilafs, biryani, pilau (cousin to biryani), and paella. In this case you use seasonings found in biryani to season the rice and add pre-cooked chicken to make this an easy weeknight meal. You can have it on the table in about 30 minutes.
Biryani is, at its heart, a meat and rice dish that is said to have originated in ancient Persia then traveled to India. The meats can be lamb, chicken, seafood, goat, or even beef (not used in Indian cuisine). And of course you can make a vegetarian version if you prefer.
Instead of the traditional whole spices usually called for, I use ground spices to make it even easier and keep you from having to buy a bunch of new ingredients. It gives us a similar flavor profile without the complicated cooking steps that more traditional recipes require.
If you want to leave out the chicken, this becomes a tasty side dish especially well suited to accompany grilled meats. If you change the chicken stock to vegetable stock, you’ve got a tempting vegetarian entrée. I would add some mushrooms and other vegetables to make it a more substantial main course.
I cooked chicken thighs in chicken stock with some of the same spices, letting the chicken simmer until it was cooked through and tender. Then I used this broth to flavor the rice while it cooked, layering the flavors to enhance the final dish.
When you smell the spices used in this dish, it reminds you of baked sweets. Once they are all cooked together, the flavors meld and take on a much more savory note.
The Artist declared this chicken and rice pilaf delicious and went back for seconds. I call it a win! I hope your family enjoys it as much as we did!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
I used Lundberg rice and followed their directions for cooking. If you are using a different brand, you should follow the directions on the packaging.
Be sure the ground spices you use are gluten-free. Both Penzey’s and McCormick’s products’ ingredient lists are clearly marked. Chicken stock is another place where gluten can hide – always use a guaranteed gluten-free brand or make your own from scratch.
- 2 tbsp butter or ghee
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Kosher or fine sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 pinch saffron or 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger or to taste
- Pinch ground cloves
- 1-1/2 cups uncooked long grain white basmati rice, such as Lundberg brand
- 3 cups chicken stock, gluten-free if needed
- 2 cooked boneless chicken breast halves or 4 boneless chicken thighs, shredded or chopped and warmed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup golden raisins, optional
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, optional
- Put 2 tbsp butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Turn heat to medium-high. Add the onions and a little salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the spices and cook, stirring, another minute.
- Add the rice and stir until the ingredients are coated with the butter. Pour in the stock, tuck in the bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cook without lifting the lid for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steam with the lid on for another 10 minutes. When the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed it is done. *
- Remove the lid and rake the rice with two forks, breaking apart the grains. Add the cooked chicken, tossing it together with the rice, replace the lid and set it aside to fully warm the chicken.
- Scoop into bowls, sprinkle the top with the raisins and almonds if using, and serve.
- *NOTE: These cooking directions are based on Lundberg rice. If you are using a different brand, you should follow the cooking directions on the packaging for the best results.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 281 Total Fat: 13g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 108mg Sodium: 347mg Carbohydrates: 15g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 5g Protein: 27g
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