Thursday, August 14, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Rice-a-Roni!

Micah rarely ever craves anything. The only thing he really ever requests is Rice-a-Roni. I guess it's a childhood thing? Because I'm awesome (and because I really like ANY rice dish) I succumb to his demands and make my version of rice-a-roni -- which is usually once a month.

If you buy the boxed version, stop! Stop, right now. The boxed stuff has entirely too much sodium! When you make it from scratch, you can control the sodium intake and make it even better! This dish is really easy and you can easily make it in 30-40 minutes.

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 C. long grain rice (rinsed)
  • 30 g. thin spaghetti 
  • 3 1/4 C. chicken stock
  • 3 C. frozen broccoli florets (you can use fresh if you have it)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 garlic gloves minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

To start off, heat a large pan with some olive oil and a pat of butter. I use this large frying skillet that has high sides so the rice cooks evenly.

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and put it into the pan.

Cook each side for 5-7 minutes until the chicken is pretty much cooked through - it's ok if there is still some slight pink in the thickest part of the breast -- the meat will cook for a few more minutes at the end. Remove from the pan and let the chicken rest on a plate.

While you're cooking the chicken, heat up the chicken stock with the poultry seasoning and keep it warm. I always have homemade chicken stock in the freezer, but if you don't, just use a low sodium chicken stock or veggie stock (if you so choose).

Also take this time to rinse the rice until the water runs clear. You're getting rid of the starches that would make your pilaf gummy.

Mince up the garlic and dice the onion.

After you take the chicken out of the pan, add the onions and garlic with a touch more olive oil and butter. Saute until soft.

Then add the rice and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and toast the rice over medium heat. After two minutes, add the thin spaghetti.

I like to just grab a handful and then break them into 1/4 inch-ish pieces into the pan.

Add the tumeric and dried thyme and watch the color turn! The tumeric gives it the vibrant yellow color. Cook everything on medium heat for another 5 minutes or until the the pasta shows some color.

While the rice is "toasting," put the frozen broccoli into the stock pot. This takes the chill off the broccoli.

Then add the chicken stock/broccoli mixture into the main saute pan. Stir everything together, bring it to a boil, put a lid on it and then bring it down to a simmer. Let it simmer for 15 minutes.

While the rice simmers, cut the chicken into cubes.

After 15 minutes, take the lid off, using a large fork, fluff the rice (don't use a large spoon!) and then add the chicken and all the juices on the plate -- don't waste it, that's the good stuff!

This is also the time to taste the rice. It'll still be slightly al dente. I usually add another splash or two of reserved chicken stock. Put the lid back on and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Once the last five minutes is done, fluff again and enjoy!

I also love this dish because it keeps really well and is perfect for me to bring to work and reheat!

See, it's not just the San Francisco treat!