I’m sure that summer’s officially here, one, because it’s almost unbearably hot, and two, because I buy chicken by the bucket, or whatever expression you might choose to put instead. There are tonnes of reasons for which this happens. The first one that comes to mind is that it makes a perfect meal for when I have people over for supper. So I keep various chicken pieces in the freezer at once. This past week I went to the butcher twice; they were on my list for both trips, simply because I had guests last Saturday and I ran out of chicken breasts. As I must have mentioned somewhere before on C&T
but I must do so again I would rather have the dark meat bits. The meat next to the bones is generally more tender and juicy. However lately, since the turn in the weather, I much prefer grilling or pan-frying a marinated chicken breast. The marinade bit is most important. It’s amazing what some extra virgin olive oil together with freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper does to a piece of meat, and to vegetables! Place the meat in a dish, marinate, cover with cling film in the fridge for a couple of hours. Grill, serve with a simple salad and voila, you have a meal. Right there.
This recipe is a little different, in that you don’t even need a grill pan and there’s no marinade prep but it’s easy. I like it because it resembles a curry without the extra spice. It comes in handy when you know you will feed a group of people who undoubtedly have various likes and dislikes, or even allergies and/or intolerances. As months go by I am often finding myself in this predicament, which can be a headache on one hand, but a positive thing for me, meaning I’m reconnecting with people. It’s been almost a year now since I moved back from Surrey. Unbelievable.
This recipe is my take on a 30-minute meal recipe from the unstoppable Rachael Ray. I loved watching her shows when we lived in Michigan. Her easy recipes and two of her books which I bought during those years guided me through my first attempts at cooking. If I can dare to compare, she’s the equivalent I’d say to what Jamie Oliver was doing in the UK at the time. He eventually also took on the same 30-minute meal concept a few years ago. I tried this one last year when I was still getting used to my kitchen in Malta, and it was one of the successes! Don’t let the long-ish list of ingredients intimidate you. Most of it is all pantry stuff. Keep me posted and good luck! Serves 4.
For the rice:
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 cups water
For the chicken:
- ⅔ cup flour
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 4 large chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoons regular olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
- 1 green bell pepper, washed, seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, washed, seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon mild curry powder
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 2 handfuls of pitted dried prunes, chopped into chunks*
- around ¼ cup flaked almonds, lightly toasted on a dry pan
- 3 spring onions, washed and chopped
Cook the rice as you usually do or with the absorption method as follows.
Place the rice in a pan, cover it with the cold water and place it on the hob on medium heat. When it starts to bubble away, decrease the heat to minimum (if using a gas cooker) and let it absorb all the water till it is tender. If using an electric cooker like me, switch off the ring on which you are cooking the rice. Fluff it with a fork once the water has completely been absorbed.
In a shallow bowl mix together the flour, paprika, salt and pepper and thoroughly coat the chicken pieces.
Place a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat and pour in the olive oil. When the pan is hot, brown the chicken pieces for around three to four minutes per side. Remove them from the heat and set aside.
Adjust the heat to medium-low. Add some more olive oil or butter in the same pan. Tip in the peppers, onions, garlic and curry powder. Add a few grindings of pepper at this stage if you like. Pour in the chicken stock, together with the chopped tomatoes and prunes. You can substitute these with sultanas or raisins if you prefer.*
Add the chicken pieces back in the pan and simmer on low heat with the lid on. Make sure the chicken is done by checking that the juices run clear.
Scatter the chopped spring onions and toasted almond flakes over the pan and serve with the rice you prepared beforehand.
(This recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals 2, Lake Isle Press Inc., New York, 2003.)
Have a browse through C&T to find out what I was doing:
One year ago: Beautiful Rye, East Sussex
Two years ago: Rachel Khoo’s Pistachio and Prune Cake
Three years ago: A Little Nostalgia and Fun
Four years ago: Baked Conchiglie