My Baked Chicken and Rice
When simple recipes have simple ingredients, the secret to success is to choose the best ingredients. Word to the wise - something this basic must start with a good chicken! For the comforting, and oh-so-easy baked chicken with rice, I like a small organic chicken, which are much easier to find in the supermarket that they used to be. I don’t know why there is controversy on how to prep a chicken for cooking, but my mother always rinsed the inside well with cold water, and she even soaked her chickens in salted (brined) water before roasting or frying.
I take a little easier road these days and just rinse them well, but then I will cut out the backbone with poultry shears and clean the interior well to make sure there are no bits of organ meat left from processing. Any good heavy Dutch oven, cast iron skillet with lid, or nice copper casserole dish and foil works. A slow cooker would also work but you will not get any browning, although more juices will cook out of the chicken and produce more stock. Suit yourself! Add mushrooms if you like or just keep it plan and simple.
MY BAKED CHICKEN AND RICE RECIPE:
Serves: 4 | Prep: 10 minutes | Soak: 30 minutes | Bake: 2 hours
One 3-to 4-pound whole organic chicken, rinsed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion
2 bay leaves
½ cup water or white wine
3/4 cup long-grain white rice, such as Basmati
1 cup water
Chopped Italian parsley, for garnish
Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
With poultry shears cut the backbone out of the chicken and discard. Trim off the thigh and leg portions, keeping the thigh and leg in one piece. Keep the double breast with ribs and wings in one piece. Pat chicken dry with paper towels.
Place 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces, skin-side down. Let sear until they are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, then with tongs turn to the other sides, and brown them all over. You may need to reduce the heat to medium if the pan gets too hot. Turn off the heat and season the seared chicken with salt and pepper.Discard extra grease in the pan.
Meanwhile, peel the onion and cut into quarters. Tuck the onion around the chicken. Add the bay leaves. Add ½ cup water or white wine to the pan, and place the lid on the pan. Place the pan in the oven to cook until the chicken is very tender, 1½ hours.
Remove the pan from the oven, and leave the oven on. Remove the pan lid, and sprinkle the raw rice around the chicken. Pour the water over the rice, and stir with a fork to moisten the rice with pan juices. Place the lid back on the pan. Return the pan to the oven so the rice can cook, 20 minutes more.
To serve, carefully remove the chicken to a platter to keep warm. Spoon the rice alongside, and scatter chopped parsley over the top.