Chicken and Saffron Rice

One pan meals are my go-to these days.  I love being able to take a pan or skillet from the oven or stove and put it right on the table for dinner.  This dish is a stepchild to Arroz con pollo, a traditional Latin chicken and rice dish with peppers, peas, etc.  My family can be a bit picky so this is a simplified, but no-less delicious, chicken and rice.  After a quick sear on the chicken (who doesn’t love crispy chicken skin!?) the rice and chicken finish cooking together in the oven.  The secret ingredient that takes this dish to the next level is saffron.  It may be a little pricey but even a tiny bit packs great flavor so it goes a long way. Until I met a dear friend who is Persian, saffron wasn’t something I used regularly.  After enjoying her cooking and learning from her, I’ve found a number of ways to use it.  Oh, and my 14-year-old loves rice with saffron (actually I think he likes hers better than mine but that’s another story!).  The saffron comes in threads but I learned that the way to get the most flavor is to crush it or grind it into a powder. 

This meal is perfect for a weeknight dinner.  It came together in less than an hour once all the ingredients were assembled. (Having all the ingredients chopped, measured and ready is critical to making sure you don’t miss a step or forget an ingredient.  The French call it mise en place which translates to setting up and I can’t stress how helpful it is.)  Since this dish cooks in the oven, I especially loved how the edges of the rice got a little crispy which added some texture.  I sauteed some broccoli with garlic and served that alongside the chicken and rice. 

Ingredients

6                      Chicken thighs, bone in (you could use boneless but I fine these have more flavor)

½ c                  Diced shallots (you can use an onion if you don’t have a shallot)

1/8 tsp              Saffron, crushed or ground

1 tsp                 Grated garlic (on a microplane)

2 tbs                 White wine (I like a dry wine like Pinot Grigio)

1 ¾ c               Basmati rice

3 ½ c               Chicken stock

1 tbs                 Olive oil

1 tsp                 Seasoned salt

½ tsp               Salt, kosher

¼ tsp               Freshly ground pepper                                      

Parsley for garnish

Preparation

Pre-heat your oven to 400.

In a small bowl, combine the saffron with two tablespoons of stock and mix to help dissolve it. Set aside.

Pat the chicken thighs on both sides with a paper towel to make sure they are dry otherwise you won’t get a good sear on them.  Sprinkle both sides with seasoned salt.  In a wide, oven safe non-stick skillet (I love my Cuisinart casserole with glass cover), heat the olive oil and then brown the chicken, skin side down till golden brown.  Flip the chicken and sear on the non-skin side till brown.  You might have to do two batches so you can avoid crowding the pan.  Once the chicken is browned on both sides, remove from the pan and place on a plate.

Pour off all but one tablespoon of the rendered fat and cook the shallot on medium to low heat until it is translucent, about 3 – 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute to combine. 

Add the wine and scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan, cooking for another minute.

Add the rice and mix with the shallot and garlic till coated and starting to toast. Add the stock and mix well.  Add the saffron mixture and combine.  Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Carefully place the chicken (and the juices from the plate) in the pan on top of the rice, being careful not to completely immerse the chicken or you will waste the great crust you have.   

Place the pan in the oven, uncovered, and cook until the stock has been absorbed, about 20 – 25 minutes (depending on your oven and pan).  Check it after about 10 minutes. You can add more stock if you need to or move the rice around to check if the stock has been absorbed. 

Once the rice is cooked and the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 you can enjoy!

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