Thursday, April 27, 2017

Chicken Thighs with Mustard over Rice and Kale

Rice versus beans. Which is your preference?

Like potatoes, both are staples of world cuisine. 

This recipe originally began with white beans. And lemon. And capers. And Dijon mustard. Since I am not a mustard fan, I unexpectedly fell in love with the succulent and savory mustard-coated chicken. It was a wonderful surprise!

The bean mixture ... not so much ...  The texture was "rough, " a bit gritty, and it certainly needed more time to soften and to mature in the oven then called for in the original recipe. Worse, all those savory chicken drippings were drowned in the overpowering acidity of capers and lemon. And, I wanted something GREEN with it.

I spent several days challenging the cuisine-side of my brain for additions/cooking times to the beans.

Then I had a revelation: Just get rid of the beans! Just use rice!

But,  for one or two people, making rice is tedious. Dirty up another pan and for what?

Enter Uncle Ben's Ready Rice. Instead of opening up a can of beans -- open up a packet of this rice!

I love this product. It comes in many flavors, including plain.

Throw it in the microwave and it is done in 90 seconds. No pot to clean up. If using it in a baking recipe (such as this one),  just throw it in the casserole dish right from the packet and allow it to cook in the oven.

So, instead of the beans, I simply substituted this easy wild rice and added some chopped kale, onion and butter. Delicious.

But don't stop there. Once, I also added a jar of drained mushrooms along with the rice-kale-onion mixture. Once, I added baby fingerlings, cut razor thin, along with the rice and kale. This is one recipe where you can get creative. Artichoke hearts? Why not? Spinach? Of course!

Here I used rice, kale and thinly-sliced purple potatoes.

This is an easy, one-dish meal. I do not recommend chicken breasts for this recipe. I once used bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and the results paled in comparison to the bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. The latter made the best basting juices for the rice/cheese mixture.

It is important to liberally season the underside of the chicken thighs. I like a bit of dried, crushed thyme. Bell's seasoning. Especially Cavender's all-purpose Greek seasoning which is pretty much available is most American grocery stores.

  • 3-4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on OR two chicken-leg quarters
  • 1 packet Uncle Ben's Ready Rice (Long Grain and Wild variety)
  • 4-6 large kale leaves, stripped from rib and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced onion or shallot (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 liberal tablespoons fresh-grated Parmesan/Romano cheese (I confess, I use the canned with great results)
  • 3-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Chicken seasoning of your choice (but always include a bit of thyme)
  • 10 x 7 casserole dish
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper 

Preheat oven to 425 F degrees.

Lightly grease a 10 x 7 ceramic or glass casserole dish.

Liberally season underside of chicken thighs with choice of seasonings.

Add rice packet to casserole dish. Add greens/onion, garlic powder, cheese.

Massage in the butter. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.

Place chicken thighs on top of rice mixture. Coat each thigh with 1 tablespoon mustard. Sprinkle with a bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Place casserole in the upper third of oven. Roast for 35 minutes or until 165 F degrees. If desired, place under broiler for just a minute or so to blister the chicken.