Ask a professional chef about the foods they crave and 99 percent of the time their answer will be something surprisingly simple and comforting.
And I’m no different. Even though I’ve learned to make all sorts of delicious things through my time working in professional kitchens, my favorite meal to make for dinner is chicken and rice. The version I grew up eating in North Carolina featured creamy white rice that was softened and plumped with chicken stock and then tossed with tender pieces of shredded chicken. It’s supremely savory—and also just the kind of thing I want after spending long hours developing a recipe for a more complex dish.
That said, there’s a little finesse to pulling off simple well.
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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.
Start with Chicken Broth . . .
Starting with store-bought chicken broth gives the dish a deep, savory backbone while also keeping the prep easy.
. . . and Bump It Up with Chicken Thighs
Simmer bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs in that broth. Chicken thighs have a rich flavor and won’t dry out during the long stewing process. Letting them simmer in the broth infuses it with an extra dose of savory chicken flavor.
Dump in the Rice
I’ve tried making this dish by toasting rice as I would for a pilaf, but honestly I like it better when I just dump the rice right into that liquid gold, chicken-infused broth. The rice gets ultracreamy and feels more cohesive.
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Keep Aromatics Simple
Similarly, when trying to impress friends, I’ve run through this recipe with celery, bay leaves, carrots, garlic, herbs, etc. None are bad, but they distract from the simple yet delicious chicken flavor. I like to simply cook an onion in butter for a little extra richness and sweetness; anything else takes it away from what it is.
Shred the Chicken
After that long simmer, I shred the chicken into bite-size strands and cook off extra liquid from the rice so the flavor gets concentrated and the dish gets to a saucy, not stewy texture. Then I add back the shredded chicken and a hefty dose of black pepper for a warm, cozy pot of chicken and rice.
All that’s left to do is snuggle on my couch with a good book and a bowl.