One Pan Chicken and Rice Bake
This dish I created for those times when you really just don’t feel like cooking or when you want to throw something together quickly and not have to fuss over much or spend a lot of money as the entire basically takes care of cooking itself in the oven and will feed a family for under $10.
The origin of chicken and rice or “arroz con pollo” trace to Spain where traditionally it would be served with yellow rice coming from saffron used to cook it yielding also a nuttier flavor.
This version we’re making today is a simplified version of the classic but if you wanted to doctor it up a bit, you could add some bacon and other vegetables. I simply served this up with some steamed broccoli. It would also go great with some garlic green beans or as the chefs in culinary school would also prefer to say, “haricorts vert.”
This is kind of like a baked paella without seafood. It’s simple and rustic and balances very well naturally and with such little effort or guesswork.
I like to use some of the olive brine as the part of the liquid to cook the rice and a handful of good quality olives for extra depth in flavor and salt.
Olives are good for your heart health and contain loads of the healthy fats found in olive oil. There’s no question that olives and products made with olives are trending as a vital component to the Mediterranean diet.
My diet excludes dairy and in this case, you could use butter or olive oil depending on your preference.
To make things even more simplified, you can use a dried Italian seasoning blend if you like. I didn’t have anything like that so I used the individual died herbs.
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 3 Tbsp good quality olive oil or butter
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 5 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 lemon (zested)
- 2 cups medium or long grain rice
- 2 cups good quality chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 2 Tbsp olive brine
- 1 Tbsp dried basil
Set your oven to 350.
Trim the chicken thighs and season with dried rosemary, oregano, chili powder, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Set aside.
I used a cast iron to make this. I find it easiest to only have to work with and clean one pan instead of using something to saute and then pouring into a casserole to bake.
Get your pan hot and add your fat (olive oil or butter). Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until it becomes soft and translucent. Add your garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Stir often to be sure it doesn’t burn.
Add your dry rice and stir it well to coat in the cooking fat. Stir often for about 2-3 minutes. You will start to smell a nutty aroma of the rice. That’s what we’re looking for. We don’t want to give the rice any color during this process.
Add your liquids now. Pour the stock, water and olive brine into your pan. Add the dried basil and give it all one last mix.
The next step is important and will help speed up the cook time on the rice. Bring the pot to a boil. When you do this, cover it and place in the oven, the rice will cook faster and at an even pace with the boneless chicken thighs. If you decided to use bone-in chicken, you can skip this step because bone-in chicken will take longer to cook and actually will time perfectly with the rice if not started at a boil.
Once your pan is at a boil, add the chicken thighs on top and scatter some good quality olives around the pan. It’s ok to use olives with the pit. It just will add another rustic component. Pitted olives are also fine.
Cover your pan either with an oven-safe lid or with foil and place in the oven.
After about 25-30 minutes, check on the rice. It should be fully cooked. If there is still any liquid in the pan, leave it in the oven, uncovered, for another 5 minutes and it should evaporate entirely.
Remove from oven and let your pan rest for about 5 minutes.
To serve, scoop out a nice portion of rice with one or two chicken thighs. Add a steamed vegetable of your choosing and enjoy!