This extremely flexible “recipe” outlines the basic steps for making a balanced, one-pan rice dish.
Every element of this dish is substitutable. I used chicken and spinach in this, but you could add or substitute bacon, ground sausage, steak strips, etc for the meat, and any leafy or quick-cooking vegetable (peas, zucchini, broccoli). I also used French-style seasonings (parsley and thyme), but you could swap out something spicier (e.g. curry powder and paprika), use a marinade (soy sauce and ginger, soy and balsamic vinegar, etc), or use whatever flavour profile you like. Finally, I used cooked brown rice in this recipe, but you could use raw rice or orzo and cook risotto-style. Other than that, all you’ll need is chicken or other stock, aromatics, and oil/butter.
1. If using uncured/unseasoned meat (I used whole chicken breasts, which I later shredded; you can also use cubed), prepare it by drying it well and then seasoning generously with salt, pepper and/or whatever dry herbs or sauces you are using. Leave to marinate on countertop until the meat more or less reaches room temperature.
2. When ready to cook, dice onion, garlic, shallots and other aromatics or base-vegetables (e.g. carrot or celery).
3. Heat your pan with oil or melted butter. Fry the meat until golden brown on both sides. Then add your aromatics and let them develop some colour.
4. By now, a nice fond should have developed on the bottom of your pan. Deglaze the pan with your chicken stock (and/or with a tasty white wine) to make a pan sauce. Finally, add your rice. If you’re adding cooked or frozen rice, simply cook until the liquid has absorbed. If adding uncooked rice or orzo, cook risotto-style, adding wine and/or stock until enough water has been absorbed to fully cook the rice (if you’re cooking whole chicken breasts or thighs here, you may want to remove from the pan and set aside at this stage, to prevent overcooking, and then replace and shred at the last step).
5. Finally, once the rice is fully cooked, add your quick-cooking vegetables and cook until done (I used bagged spinach and just wilted it down). I finished by stirring in a bit of butter (you could also use grated cheese, soft herbs, toasted nuts, or whatever you like).