Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rice and Chicken with a side of Green Beans!

My mom is known for her "Chicken and Rice" dinners as we called it. When it was my turn to cook and Mom told me it was chicken and rice night, I knew I could use only the chicken, rice, and green beans. So I found ways to change it around and add a little something special to it. If only I had had Rachael Ray's recipe for chicken and leek with rice pilaf! I have perfected my southern green beans so I do not use Rachael's recipe (As you know I botched her recipe and threw out an entire pan of beans!)
Tonight I made a very tender chicken breast with leeks simmered in white wine with my green beans (from the can and cooked with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a pinch of sugar!) and a very delicious and moist rice pilaf.
This is the first time I have ever been able to get Nathan to eat a second helping of rice and want leftovers for lunch the next day! No joke!
He only came in twice to see how long it was going to take (forget that it is called 30 Minute Meals 2!), to which I told him, "not thirty minutes!" He left the room mumbling, "ok so forty-five" which still was not close to the real deal. It took an hour and twenty minutes, about forty-five minutes was spent on the prepping in my small kitchen. Did I mention I have a very small kitchen table, no island, and only one space between my stove and sink for prep?

(Can you see what is wrong with this picture? If you guessed $14.50, then you are correct! I have never spent that much on five chicken breasts ever! Last week I spent less than half that amount on the same brand and same amount)

I had so much fun feeling all chef-like and getting out the prep bowls, karate chopping the chicken breasts, even though Rachael does not say to do this, to make them flatter and of course to make them tender. It works better that way! I do not own a meat tenderizer. And yes, my hands do get sore and sometimes bruise, but it is so much fun!
So after pounding the living daylights out of the already dead chicken breasts, I sing and dance to music in my head (I should really invest in a docking station for my Zune player) while finally beginning on the three dishes. First the green beans, then to saute the shallot in olive oil for the rice and then simmer the chicken in the third pan. I cannot tell you how long it has been since I have had more than two dishes going at once. A LONG TIME!
I am not usually proud of my cooking at all, but tonight I was proud! I got all three dishes finished at the same time! WAHOO! Ok enough celebrating.

So I add the rice to the shallot and oil mixture and saute that while flipping the chicken. I add white wine to the rice and let it evaporate while I pull out the chicken and stir olive oil, pepper, salt, and a pinch of sugar into the bean pot.
Once I got the leeks sauteing, I added chicken broth, water, and thyme to the rice, boiled it and then covered it and set the timer for twenty minutes.
So that is the time Nathan comes in announcing I have been at this for an hour now and I wave him away and tell him it is almost done and that I would get him when it is.
The chicken was added back to the pan with the leeks. "Nestle the chicken in with the leeks" Rachael tells me. I am pretty sure I did it a lot less gracefully than she described it. I dropped them in and jumped away to prevent burning. Then added white wine and simmered.
My favorite part came next. When the timer rang, I added lemon zest from an entire lemon and chopped parsley to the rice. It was so fluffy, smelled like nothing I have had before, and not at all gummy or sticky! And I was using a Calphalon stainless steel pot! It did not stick to the pot.

My favorite line from tonight was when I scolded Nathan (oh yes I did!) for ruining the chicken when I found him adding red pepper flakes on top as I turned to the stove to serve myself. "I am not ruining it, I am enhancing the flavor!" I did finally convince him to try the leeks and he did enjoy them. He also added red pepper flakes to his rice and tried adding them to my chicken as well, "you have to try it!" My mouth was on fire and I spat incoherent phrases (don't worry, no cursing ever comes from my tongue) and downed my entire glass of lemonade before everything returned to normal. He got food and entertainment. I was pleasantly surprised and cannot wait for next Wednesday! I will not know what recipe until the day I cook it. I pick it randomly and while sitting in the grocery store parking lot searching for pen, paper, and recipe at the same time.
Until then, hope you enjoyed my adventure as much as I did.

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