“I think there are a million versions of chicken and rice, and I would probably like any of them at this time of year. It’s just such cozy food,” says Deb Perelman. It’s early November – a couple of weeks before the official release of Smitten Kitchen Keepers: New Classics For Your Forever Files – and the days are starting to cool down in New York City. Deb’s compact kitchen, though, is always nice and toasty.
As the New Yorker likes to put it, Smitten Kitchen is “not just a food blog: it is the food blog.” It all began in 2006, but the world is more smitten than ever: she’s a social media titan and acclaimed cookbook author with two New York Times bestselling recipe collections under her belt. This latest one is all about the ‘Keepers’: recipes that she hopes home cooks will keep around forever.
“When I was writing this book, the moment when each recipe was complete, I was like ‘this is the one. This is the version I want to make forever,’” she says. For a combination as classic as chicken and rice, a recipe that Deb deems a ‘keeper’ has been awarded high praise indeed.
This one-pot chicken and rice adds in chorizo, but it’s open to some remixing. “You could add more vegetables for sure. You can always add greens to it,” she says. “Actually, it wouldn’t be terrible with a garlicky aioli. A little dab at the end if you’re looking for a little ‘zhuzh,’ put a little swish of that on the plate and then you spoon it on top.” Don’t forget the paella-style socarrat (rice crust) from the bottom of the pan – the layer of crispiness is divine.
Chicken with Rice, Chorizo, and Tomatoes
- 2-2¼ lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 or 5)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 4 oz cured Spanish chorizo diced
- 1 medium onion thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika sweet or hot
- ¼ cup white wine or 2 tablespoons (30 grams) white-wine vinegar
- 14.5 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes or 1¾ cups diced fresh tomatoes
- 1½ cups uncooked white rice any variety
- 2 cups chicken broth
- Spread the chicken thighs on a plate, and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large sauté pan (it should hold 3 to 4 quarts and have a lid) over medium-high heat, and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Brown the chicken on both sides it takes about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side, 3 to 4 minutes on the second side. Transfer it to a plate.
Chorizo and Rice
- If the pan looks dry, warm the last tablespoon of olive oil in it. Otherwise, just add the chorizo, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it’s beginning to crisp. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and paprika, and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine, and cook until it’s almost all reduced, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, plus 2 teaspoons salt. If they’re fresh, cook for 5 minutes, until they begin to lose their shape and look a little saucy; this may happen 1 to 2 minutes sooner with canned tomatoes. Add the rice, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes in the tomatoes and spices. Nestle the chicken thighs back into the pan, including any juices that collected on the plate. Pour in the broth, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible simmer, and cover the pan. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is tender, and the chicken is cooked through. (If your rice is undercooked, add ¼ cup water and cook for another 5 minutes.)
- With the lid on the pan, increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, moving the pan around every minute or so, allowing the bottom to color evenly, until the rice is dark and crispy underneath. you’ll hear it crackling in the pan. remove it from the heat, and let it rest with the lid on for 10 minutes. The steam that collects helps it to loosen.
- Serve the chicken with the rice, scraping up stuck bits from the pan with a thin spatula.