Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lou's Most Excellent (Adult) Chicken & Rice

The reasons why our mothers made chicken and rice - that classic cream o'mushroom + rice + chicken mix - are simple. It was quick, easy, and could cheaply feed an army of hungry kids.

It's a guilty pleasure to us all, still. No one wants to admit they love White Trash Cuisine but this dish is one of the hallmarks.

I was mouth-agape/appalled at Paula Deen's take on this. No where does she have fresh anything (except the onion) and to top it all off, you use precooked chicken in it. To her credit, though, to give her dish some pseudofresh crunch she adds in water chestnuts...canned, of course. It's probably the only thing with crunch that comes in a can but I thought it was a neat addition. Still, welcome to the sad state (or future) of American cooking.

This one here, folks, is good enough to feed to guests and doesn't take too much work. You'll need a very large pan for this, either a roasting pan or a 10 x 15. This will not fit in a 9 x 13.

And yes, it still uses canned soup.

1 eight-part cut whole chicken*
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can Progresso Creamy Mushroom Soup
1 can Campbell's Condensed (of course) Cream of Celery Soup
2 cups Jasmine rice
1½ cups dry white wine
10 Shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced into ½" strips
8 carrots, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
4 rutabagas, peeled and cut into ½" cubes
6 parsley sprigs, leaves minced
2 thyme sprigs, leaves minced
3 ounces sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
1 TBS butter
Extra virgin olive oil

* You can buy whole chickens precut if you want to save time.

Preheat your oven to 325.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken parts. Generously salt and pepper the pieces. In a large skillet add the butter and heat to medium high. Brown the chicken parts, 2 - 3 at a time, for about 3 minutes each or until the skin has browned. For the legs brown each side. Set pieces aside.

[If you notice in my picture, the leg bone near the ankle is exposed. You can do this by cutting a ring around the ankle of the leg prior to cooking with a very sharp knife so you cut through the tough, white tendons. What results is a big, mega-tender, meltingly delicious ball of chicken meat on the end of the bone.]

In a large bowl add the two soups together, the parsley and thyme, and 10 ounces of water (one Campbell's can). Stir to mix and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium and add about 1 TBS of olive oil and the onions. Saute for about 8 minutes, until the onions are nicely yellowed and near translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds, then add the rice and stir to mix for two minutes.

Add the white wine and simmer an additional two minutes and then the carrots, rutabagas, water chestnuts. Saute one more minute and then add the soup mixture. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.

Lightly butter the roasting pan. Pour in the rice/soup mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Set the chicken pieces, skin side up, on top of the rice with the larger pieces toward the ends of the pan. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes.


[Or, in Deenish, "VOH-WAH LAH!"]

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