Chicken cooked in one pan with the whole grain and vegetables all at the same time– it’s easy! And tasty! Best of all, there is only one pan to clean afterwards. This particular dish is one of those experiments that worked so well once, we have prepared it a few more times since.
Cooking in the Real World
The reality is – cooking any meat cooking releases liquid. Cooking vegetables does too. If you cook chicken and vegetables in a pan the result is soggy vegetables and soggy chicken, rather than a piece of chicken to sink your teeth into and nice al dente’ vegies. One day I pondered – what if I put something that needs water to cook under all those moisture producing things I am about to cook?! This is what I came up with.
2 pounds chicken (we prefer boneless, skinless thighs) 2 pounds vegetables * 1 cup rice or other whole grain of choice – such as quinnoa, amaranth, barley 1 cup liquid (water, chicken stock, coconut milk) seasonings to taste - Note! we will revisit this basic recipe in future posts. foil or cover for pan
* Vegetables That Will Work for This
Choose from the following:
zucchini or yellow squash, cut about ½ inch thick rounds or chunks. Thicker if you want them firm.
Brussels sprouts, cut in ½ or ¼ depending on size.
Greens including foraged greens such as wild mustard, collards, beet greens, cabbage or Chinese cabbage, or bok choi – sliced into 1 inch thick strips. De-veined if you wish.
What doesn’t work – broccoli or cauliflower (the florets got all gnarly).
How to Create the Dish
lay the grain in the bottom of the pan
layer the vegetables in on top of the grain
sprinkle with spices of choice
layer in the chicken
add more spices of choice
pour on the liquid
cover with a lid or foil
Cook at 350F for 45 minutes and check done-ness. You may need a more time depending on thickness of chicken, Chicken breasts will take longer than thighs, and bone-in legs will also take longer because the bone takes a while to heat up. When done, remove from oven, uncover, and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
Tips – Because Life Happens
It is hard to give you – the reader – hard and fast measurements because some squash will be wetter, some chicken dryer, and pans will transfer heat differently. We do like cooking this dish in a glass pan where the heat is evenly transferred, plus it does cool off more quickly than cast iron.
Speaking of cast iron – you can do this in a dutch oven on a camping trip. It’s a great way to put your meal on, go for a hike, and come back to a ready hot meal.
If the chicken is done, and the grain is done, but you have an excess of liquid in the pan, uncover for 5 minutes and leave the oven on to help evaporate the excess. Do but keep an eye on it, because it can go fast.
If the chicken is done and the grain is a hard mass in the bottom of the pan – too much liquid escaped. Your meal is going to be sans grain, or take the chicken out, add more liquid, and cook the grain with the cover on tight. Or you can feed the under-cooked grain to your chickens.
I am a huge fan of only making one pot or dish dirty as I cook a meal. In the winter I am also a fan of using the oven and helping heat the house while dinner is made. (The Sonoran Desert doesn’t get as cold as “Frostbite Falls” – but still.) I hope you will enjoy this dish as much as we do.
To learn to use Sonoran herbs, visit Savorist Monica King Saturdays at the Arivaca’s Farmers Market, or come to one of Savorist Jacqueline Soule’s free lectures. We try to mention both on our Savor the SW Facebook page. We both have copies of Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today (Tierra del Sol Institute Press).” This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there we may get a few pennies.
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