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Chicken and (Yuppie) Rice

Note that this is a very low salt recipe (but it's also designed so that you won't miss the salt, unless you're someone who really needs salt, in which case it's easy enough to add some to the recipe!).

This uses wonderful Kalijira rice, which is tiny (sort of the pastina of the rice world). In Bangladesh, they call this "the prince of rice". Available at Whole Foods and other fancy grocers, also at good health food stores....or order online at http://www.worldpantry.com/cgi-bin/nc...

Okey dokey...

In a large skillet, sautee half an onion (chopped) in olive oil, along with a generous amount of crushed saffron (maybe seven or eight threads), until onion is limp.

Add 1/4 cup apple cider and 3/4 cup water, 1 or 2 TBS good olive oil and 1 TBS of lemon soy sauce (available in Filipino groceries) or else regular soy sauce plus a squeeze of lemon. Stir, and bring to simmer

Stir in two carrots and two leeks (both sliced), let cook, covered, a couple of mins at medium heat.

Add water until there's an inch or so in the pan. Reduce heat to low.

Stir in half a (15 oz) bag of Kalijira rice. Then place 5 skinless chicken thighs above all. Drizzle some olive oil over the chicken, and dust it with good cumin (e.g. Penzey's). Don't get much cumin on the rice.

Cover and cook 25 mins or so at low heat, adding water if you start hearing dry sizzling from the pan (add the water in dabs all around the pan, but don't run it directly over the chicken). You don't want too much water (don't worry, the rice will cook from steam, the grains don't need to be immersed), but you don't want it to burn, either. Be sure and cover quickly after adding water so the new plumes of steam can compensate for the interrupted cooking.

Scrape the crunchy rice on the bottom of the pan, and stir into the rice.

It's important with Kalijira rice to let the food rest five minutes, off the burner, before serving.

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  1. OK, since you pimped this post on Site Talk, I took a look. Sounds good, but maybe a little too much attention needed from me as I am a lazy cook and am happy to saute or braise items in the pan with little if any intervention. If you've got more low/no salt recipes, please do share them, there are plenty of us who are suffering deliciousness-wise because of salt restrictions.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ChinoWayne

      CW, read the recipe again. It is as simple as can be: only one pan, sautee onions, add liquids, simmer carrots and leeks, add rice and thighs, spice, let steam, adding water as needed.

      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Yeah, I know, Sam, you are correct, aside from lazy I am a bit physically challenged these days.

        It really is a simple recipe, and something that is very appealing to me is the fact that you are cooking your protein and vegetables in the same pan. I really hate having a multitude of pots and pans going on the stove.

    2. This DOES sound good even if you did have to whine :) However, I have a pretty active dislike of chicken thighs. If I use breasts, do you think the cooking time will remain about the same? Thanks.

      7 Replies
      1. re: c oliver

        I used to avoid chicken thighs, always trying to grab the available breasts, but I have finally figured out that the thigh meat is more tender, juicy and flavorful than the breast meat, and works really well in braises. And its a hell of a lot less expensive. If you try this recipe with thighs be real careful about not overcooking.

        1. re: ChinoWayne

          My dislike is pretty irrational probably. I really like bonless thighs but it's the tendons or whatever (I always call them VEINS to make it sound really disgusting) in legs and thighs that I (think I) dislike. It's so silly. I eat almost anything: snails, guinea pig, sweetbreads, Rocky Mountain oysters, etc. But dark meat, bone-in chicken. Yuck. Maybe I'll make this and see. Or maybe not :)

          1. re: c oliver

            If you're that fussy about the tendons, you can yank them out of the raw meat by pulling on them with needlenose pliers. I did this to a heritage breed, free range chicken I cooked at a friend's house last month. He couldn't believe it when I asked him for a pair of pliers.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Needlenose are an essential tool in the kitchen, work great for pulling pin bones from fish.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Why did YOU pull out the tendons???

                1. re: c oliver

                  I pulled out the tendons after boning and skinning the thighs and drumsticks because I wanted a uniform texture in the dish I was cooking. I then popped the pieces into the freezer for a short time to firm them up a bit, and then cut them into thin 1/4" x 1/2" strips (sang gai si) for marinating and steaming. It's faster to pull them out with pliers than to try to cut around them.

          2. re: c oliver

            oh, shoot, c oliver, chicken breasts just won't add the....interest level, the richness. Going so low fat and low salt, this recipe is counting on the meat to add a lot. But breasts are just sort of bland and fibrous. I don't know what to tell you; I think this particular recipe requires poultry, so swapping in a darker meat probably wouldn't work too well. if you do do breasts, leave the skins on. As Melanie says, you can also do some lay butchering...

          3. OK, that's a pretty straightforward recipe. I'll be back in DC next week and I've added kalijira rice to my list.

            1. jim, how do you determine whether it's necessary to add more water. do you have to open the lid to check? (if so, i'd be worried about letting all that steam escape... the rice'd be much harder to cook.)

              7 Replies
              1. re: cimui

                Yeah, cimui, you caught the weak spot. "Every five minutes" was just me sort of skating. Indeed, lots of pot opening can interfere with the steaming, though, OTOH, if the water's gone, you'll get PLUMES of fresh steam as soon as you add more (trick is to shut lid fast).

                I go by sound and smell. That may be too intuitive for some people. But, look, even if I came up with precise measurements, there are all these tiny variables that, combined, will always make your results unique. What I'm trying to avoid is having loose water in the pan by the end of cooking. But, really, you probably won't, as the rice is thirsty. And you definitely don't want this stuff to burn. Sticking to the pan a little, though, is good....scrape the crunch into the rice!

                Also, this rice is pretty quick cooking (remember, it's tiny), and the recipe nearly overcooks it. I can't imagine undercooked rice resulting. So I'm just not worried about THAT (so much as burning).

                Anyway, i didn't answer your question, i know. But this one's a "feel" thing every cook, I'd imagine, has to acquire with his/her particular pots/pans and stove.

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  heh, not really a weak spot; i'm all in favor of the 'intuitive' cooking. after a while, i'm sure you develop a feel for when the pot needs more water.

                  i just had to ask because i'm the world's worst at making rice on the stove and don't (yet) have a feel for it at all. my talents are pretty much exhausted at clicking the 'cook' button on my rice cooker... and sometimes i even forget to do that. alas, there is no other way to get that lovely crunch unless there is some pan action involved, so it seems i ought to learn...

                  anyhoo. thanks for the explanation! :)

                  1. re: cimui

                    I'd bet you having-to-eat-a-meal-at-Wendy's that you're inattentive. You go and do stuff while it's cooking, right?

                    Most people can improve their cooking about 200% simply by sticking around. Carefulness and caringness are the trick to just about everything...

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      I think that's a good point. I'm great at multi-tasking but not while cooking. I made Hazan's Bolognese recently and, although jfood says he goes about other things during the hours-long process, I never really got far from the stove. Thanks for the reminder --- and for making me feel like it's a strength rather than a weakness :)

                      1. re: Jim Leff

                        only when it comes to rice! well... ok, ok... i DO check chowhound when i'm cooking. but i only set things on fire when someone makes me remove my laptop from the kitchen. :)

                        i think there really may be a possibility of being overly attentive, sometimes. you can't check a cake for doneness every few minutes while it's baking or it won't rise properly. (this is where chowhound comes into play as a useful distraction.) my suspicion was that you can't check rice every few minutes while it's cooking on the stove, though i'm sure i could be wrong. maybe that's how you're getting all that great crunch? (mom would smack my hand if i tried to check on rice in the rice cooker!)

                        my thought was that you could always open the lid and cook off any remaining liquid at the end to avoid overly wet rice?

                        1. re: cimui

                          LOL, again, you've voiced the issue I myself skated over.

                          Yes, carefulness can easily magnify into twitchiness. But there's a sweet spot.

                          I'll go edit the recipe to make the water-checking more vague. But I would NOT want to add to overall cooking time by cooking off extra liquid. This recipe is already dangerously close to over-cooking chicken, rice, AND veg. And if you simply remove lid after 20 minutes, I'm worried about drying out the chicken thighs. And you don't at any point want to add too much water. Water blands everything. This is a very healthy recipe, but the price of health is always the artful skirting of blandness.

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            >> the price of health is always the artful skirting of blandness.

                            words to live by. :)

                            thanks, again, for the recipe + pointers. i'll be playing with this one, too, i think. sounds great!

                2. If getting this exotic rice seems too difficult, could you recommend subbing in anything else? Like quinoa, amaranth, millet?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Sharuf

                    I'd substitute in regular rice. Note the link I included in the topmost posting for ordering this rice online.

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      First, I'll start looking for lemon soy sauce.

                    2. re: Sharuf

                      http://www.worldpantry.com/cgi-bin/nc...

                      If you buy the rice, give the chicken rice dish a go and find yourself with leftover raw rice--give this rice pudding a try-super delicious!