One of my favorite cookbooks is The Gift of Southern Cooking by Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis. It taught me the importance of brining a turkey, the best way to cook asparagus, and that food doesn’t have to be fancy to be good. Take this recipe for chicken and rice – it doesn’t look like much, no exotic spices or herbs, but trust me, it’s marvelous! It’s cooked very slowly in one pot until the chicken is falling off the bone tender, and the rice has a consistency that’s described as “puddinglike”. It’s good stuff!
- 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 – 4 pounds) cut into 10 pieces, breasts cut in half
- kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small whole onion, peeled
- 1 small leafy celery rib
- 5 cups water
- 1 1/2 cup short or long grained rice
1. Wash and dry the chicken pieces, and season generously with kosher salt.
2. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over low heat until it becomes frothy. Add the chicken to the pot, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat the pieces with the butter. Cook for 10 minutes, occasionally turning the pieces until they are a light golden color.
3. Add the onion and celery to the pot and cover, cooking for 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, remove the lid – you’ll be amazed by the amount of liquid in the pot that’s released by the chicken and vegetables. Pour in the 5 cups of water, increase the heat to medium, and cook, partially covered for 35 minutes.
4. With a slotted spoon, remove the onion and celery. Taste the broth – it should be highly season and salty – which the rice will absorb.
5. Stir in the rice, cover, turn down the heat to a low simmer for 35 to 45 minutes. Most of the broth will be absorbed by the rice, but may look a bit soupy – remove from heat and let rest (still covered) for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 4.