Monday, October 25, 2004

Chicken and Rice and Everything Nice

It's not inspirational to start the week with leftovers, but that's exactly what we did. We have three servings' worth of curried butternut squash soup and more roast pork than I know what to do with. I also have some chicken thighs that I need to salvage. It's time to pull everything out and start cooking.

I didn't want to repeat our Saturday dinner, so I decided to reheat just the soup. But what should I do with the chicken? We have a vegetable (butternut squash) and a protein (chicken), and a starch would give us a traditionally balanced dinner. But there's no reason to keep them separate; we could combine the protein and starch in a classic dish like chicken and rice.

When I was growing up, chicken and rice was a one-pot budget saver that allowed my mother to feed a family of five with a small fryer or a few chicken breasts. I loved how the drippings would infuse the rice and coat all the grains. But my palette is a little more sophisticated now, so I have less appreciation for greasy rice. But it's still important that the dish be moist and flavorful.

I heated a little olive oil and cooked some green onions while I cut the chicken thighs into large chunks. It took just a few minutes to brown the meat. I set the chicken aside while I added some leftover short grain rice. When it was heated through, I stirred in the chicken, a little stock, and some leaves of fresh thyme. I transferred everything into a casserole and slid it into the oven while we had our spicy soup.

I pulled out the steaming chicken and rice and plated some for John. The scent of juicy chicken was almost too much for the cats, who circled our feet, hoping for a scrap. But it was too good to share. Besides, I wanted some leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Mmmmm...comfort food. Where are you?
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