Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chicken & Rice



I love Autumn. It's my favorite season for a number of reasons: the return to school and school supplies, the changing leaves, the sights and smells, Halloween, Homecoming, apple picking....I could go on and on. Another of my favorite things about Fall is that we can return to our favorite comfort foods. Menu planning is so much easier with Graham during the fall and winter months is so much easier because he loves casseroles and stews, so it hardly takes any work at all to pull meal ideas out of him. This week, I decided to plan a menu full of his favorite comfort foods to get us ready for the first official day of Autumn. My inner Autumn Addict swooned when I looked at my menu and saw lots of completely unhealthy but oh-so-comforting meals!

Last week Graham requested this meal, and while I wasn't thrilled, part of me knew that because I'd missed out on it last winter, it should probably make an appearance on our table at least once this season. This is another simple meal that probably everyone has had at least once in their lifetime. It was kind of "eh" for me. The chicken was tender but lacking in flavor. I'll go into more detail in my notes.

Chicken & Rice

1 T. vegetable oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 can (10 oz) Cream of Chicken soup
1 1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. paprika and more for seasoning
1/4 tsp. pepper and more for seasoning
1 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking rice
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen broccoli florets

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add chicken and cook 8 minutes or until browned. Set chicken aside. Poor off fat.

Add soup, water, paprika, and pepper. Heat to a boil.

Stir in rice and broccoli. Mix well. Add chicken to skillet and season with additional paprika and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Serves 4.

Notes:
  • This took less that 20 minutes to prep and make, so that's a definite plus. I need to bulk up my list of recipes that can be made and served in less than 30 minutes for weeknights.
  • The chicken lacked in flavor. I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper before browning it, and usually that helps, but this time I didn't really notice anything different. I'd suggest using olive oil rather than vegetable oil because it's got a little more depth of flavor to it.
  • A simple marinade, even for 30 minutes, might also help this chicken tremendously.
  • If you increase the amount of water to 1 2/3 cups, the rice will be creamier. I looooove creamy rice, so naturally that's what I did.
  • I also think chicken stock or broth would add a nice flavor to the rice.
  • I used broccoli because that's what I had, but I imagine that just about any vegetable would work well with this.
  • I liked the heat that came from the paprika and the pepper, but if you want more, go with crushed red pepper.
  • Overall, this was comforting, but I most likely won't be making it again unless I've got a night where I don't have time to cook. This is a good meal to practice with if you're learning how to cook, or even to bring to a church supper or winter picnic, but it's not necessarily a meal I'll be making to impress my friends. :-)

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