Easy Spanish Rice and Chicken (with Veggies)

I hosted a few friends this past Sunday to watch the 2013 Confederations Cup Final, Brasil v Spain (VIVA BRASIL porra!!).  It was the perfect opportunity to try this meal.  Chicken and Rice is a delicious staple in many Latin American countries, each hosting their own mix of flavors.  I love this dish because of its versatility– you can add anything you  desire.  Here is my take on this dynamic dish.

You will need: Cast iron skillet, Wok (or large pan).

Time: 15 min prep + 30 min cooking time (total of 45 min)

Ingredients: (serves at least 6, add/remove/increase/or reduce as desired)

  • 2 cups rice (or quinoa, cooked the same way as rice)
  • 6 chicken thighs (boneless & skinless), can substitute white meat if you really must
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 8oz mushrooms
  • 2 bell peppers, red or green
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 4 tomatillos (a superfood?)
  • olives (black & green, pitted)
  • basil
  • cilantro
  • olive oil
  • spices: turmeric, cayenne pepper, spanish or regular paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt

Cook the rice or quinoa according to instructions. Cut the chicken into large chunks, then coat with olive oil and add spices in a ziplock bag or metal/glass bowl. While the rice is cooking and the chicken is marinating (10 min), prepare all the veggies (and fruit) by chopping and mincing.

Turn on the oven and set the top to broil. Heat the skillet on medium-high, and stir fry half of the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. Add the chicken and cook 5-7 min or until golden on one side.  Flip the chicken to the uncooked side and immediately place the skillet in the oven for 10-15 min, or until chicken is reddish brown on top.  The skillet should go on the middle or bottom rack to prevent from burning.

Coat the wok with olive oil, and saute the rest of the onions and garlic on medium-high. When onions are translucent, add the veggies one by one, stirring each for a minute or so: mushrooms, peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes.  Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for two minutes.  Add olive oil as needed.

Turn heat to medium-low and mix in the rice one portion at a time. Add the olives and spices (season liberally as this is what enhances the flavors.) Remove the chicken from the oven and mix into the rice. This is where you need to taste what you’re cookin’… you’re the chef, go ahead and taste it, don’t be shy.  Add salt and seasoning as needed. When everything is incorporated, turn off heat. Serve with chopped cilantro and basil as desired.

I love this dish for so many reasons… it’s fast, easy, delicious & nutritious, and yes… scalable (word of the day). Impress your friends and family with your own twist of Latin flavor!

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