Each of us have those certain dishes that never require following a recipe. The flavors mingle in your mind. They’re just part of you and what you know. Out of habit and familiarity, the dish materializes before your eyes. Kind of like a dance you’ve always danced. You don’t think about it. You just do it.
No precise measuring. No fancy techniques. No strict timers or guidelines. And then it’s complete.
Dishes like these are usually our comfort foods. Food we’ve grown up with. Comfort derived not just from the enjoyment of eating the food itself but from the process of doing something routine, regular, and familiar.
This dish of Chicken and Rice is that kind of comfort food for me. Having grown up with it, watching my grandmothers, and mother make it, and now being able to share it with my family is a pleasure. It’s special. Not to mention super yummy. My daughter requests this along with the White Bean Chicken Chili regularly. And one day she’ll learn to make it for her family too.
Here in the south Chicken and Rice is a regional favorite, and you’ll find as many versions as there are different southern accents. Particularly in the Low Country in South Carolina, Chicken and Rice may be referred to as Chicken Bog or Chicken Pileau (or perlow, or pilau, or perlieu?). While each may have a slight variation in ingredients (some recipes may include sausage and/or wine), all have two things in common: chicken that’s been cooked in a pot of it’s own broth until it’s falling off the bone, and rice added to soak up all the broth-y goodness.
I don’t know what the higher ups in all things food would call this version that I’m sharing with you, but we call it Chicken and Rice. And that suits me just fine.
I’ve been cooking this for years, and, as I said, I don’t really follow a recipe. But the last few times I’ve made it I’ve taken notes so it could be shared with you. The recipe follows but please make it your own. It’s a basic rendition but sure to please. The ingredients are simple: a whole chicken, rice, celery and onion are the main ingredients, with the addition of a few seasonings. The process is pretty simple as well. I put mine together similar to a risotto.
After the chicken has cooked until the meat is falling off the bone (at least an hour, but the more the bettah), remove the chicken and let cool slightly in order to debone. While the chicken is cooling I usually let the broth reduce a bit more. When chicken is deboned, I remove all of the broth (or use another large pot) and put about 6 cups of broth back into the pot with 3 cups of rice and the deboned chicken. Add additional salt and pepper, cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Stir rice and add another cup of broth, cover and cook an additional 5 minutes. Continue the process by simmering covered and stirring in more broth every 5 minutes or so, until rice is done. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
Result? A smooth, creamy and tasty Chicken and Rice. And a wonderful smelling house!
I sure hope you enjoy it as much as we do and that it brings you a measure of comfort too.
- 4 quarts (16 cups) water approx. (enough to cover chicken)
- 1 4 lb. (approx.) whole chicken
- 3-4 stalks celery; rough chopped
- 1 large sweet onion; diced
- 1 teaspoon pepper – divided
- 1 teaspoon salt – divided
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley – divided
- 3 cups long grain white rice
- In a large stock pot bring water, chicken, celery, onion, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, oregano, celery salt, 1 teaspoon parsley to boil, cover and reduce to a simmer for at least an hour (2-3 hours would be preferable).
- Once simmering is complete, remove chicken to cool in order to debone. Let broth continue to simmer and reduce.
- When cool enough to handle, debone chicken.
- Remove all broth from pot (or use another pot) and put approximately 6 cups broth back into pot along with the rice, chicken, remaining pepper, salt and parsley. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes stir in another cup of broth. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Continue to add broth, stir, cover and simmer for 5 minutes at a time until rice is done.
- Salt and pepper to taste.