Meet your new go-to weeknight one-pan easy-bake chicken and rice
One you can use for any given weekday or even, in a pinch, for Shabbos?
One that just takes a few minutes to throw together?
One you feel good about sending to other families in the community - or just keeping it and eating it yourself?
I didn’t used to, but I do now! And I'd love to share it with you.
Many years ago, I was given Norene Gilletz's cookbook The Pleasures of Your Food Processor as a wedding present. Like a few cookbooks from this beloved Canadian food writer, it was actually a binder with sturdy rubbery-plastic covers that could be folded back to turn the cover into a cookbook stand. If I still used cookbooks, I would want more of them to open up like this one!
(Kind of hard to visualize, but the cover was folded in the middle so you could stand up the cookbook. Just trust me!)
Anyway, the book itself wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but one recipe stood out. I think it wasn't even a recipe, just a side dish to go along with other things: Oven-Baked Rice. This idea charmed me, in part, because at the time I didn't really know how to make rice on the stove. Ah, how naive I was!
Still - the idea of hands-off "stir-fried" rice with a bunch of veg mixed in was a great one and the texture was great - crispy at the edges, perfect, and pretty forgiving in terms of baking time. Her recipe was very Asian-Jewish, with canned Asian stir-fry vegetables and over the years ours morphed more towards fresh veggies, although canned mushrooms do sometimes make an appearance. This recipe is very forgiving!
And then, at some point, probably an evening when we needed to cook chicken AND a side dish, I thought – duh, why not combine these brilliant ideas?
So I took a little of the onion soup mix from the rice and slapped it onto cut-up pieces of chicken, and a wonderful family tradition was born.
Chicken and rice is now one of my main go-tos for lazy weeknight suppers, and for mealtrains (an app where you send to people who need meals). Here in Israel, chicken is very affordable. To save a few bucks (aka shekels), we buy whole chickens and cut them up ourselves, but you could also just buy a couple of trays of pargiyot (chicken backs = thighs).
This recipe expands to fit the size of your pan and the number of people you're feeding. Cut it in half for two or double it for eight - whatever.
As a bonus, without the chicken (with or without firm tofu tossed in), it makes an excellent vegan meal-in-a-dish OR perennial potluck favourite). At potlucks, people tend to assume it's healthy because the rice is a darkish colour. It probably isn't, but it sure gets eaten up fast, and it's super-easy to make in vast quantities for almost no money.
These days, now that we have a vegetarian kid at home, I tend to make it in 2 pans, 1 vegetarian, with or without tofu (depending on if we have tofu in the freezer) and 1 with chicken. The veg version needs less time to bake.
While this is a complete meal in a dish, I like to serve it with a veg side dish, but it's totally not necessary at all. If you're in a hurry, never fear, you and your family are getting all the veggies they need right in the single pan.
And if YOU have a go-to weeknight one-dish chicken recipe, let me know in the comments. As much as we love chicken and rice, I’m always open to new ideas!!!
Chicken & Rice for All Happy Occasions
Inspired by (but seriously adapted from) Norene Gilletz’s Oven-Fried Rice, from The Pleasures of Your Food Processor
- Preheat oven to 200°C (375°F).
- In a big, deep rectangular baking pan, stir together:
- 2 cups uncooked rice (we use basmati)
- 1 to 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 pkg dry onion soup mix (I use 2-3 Tbsp)
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- Now, stir in well:
- 1-2 cups of whatever veg cut up small you have handy:
- o Frugal: lots of cabbage, a little red pepper, tinned mushrooms (save the water!), whatever your family likes
- o Splurge: prepackaged Asian stir-fry mix, bean sprouts
- Cut up a whole chicken and/or buy chicken parts w/skin, enough to feed your family
- Place chicken parts in a big bowl
- Rub all over with 2-3 Tbsp. onion soup mix & a little canola oil to make it into a paste
- (That’s all the potchke there is in this recipe, I promise!)
- Place chicken parts in pan on top of rice
- Add 2 cups of water to pan &slide into oven
- Add another 2 cups of water once the pan is in the oven
- (I do it this way so it doesn’t slosh and overflow as I put it in the oven!)
- Bake around 200°C (375°F) for about an hour until chicken is completely cooked and water is completely absorbed.
Note: Replace chicken with cubed firm tofu or seitan to make this vegan, or just leave out the chicken and serve as a side dish.