Lebanese Chicken and Rice

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No matter where you live on the planet, what your ethnic background may be, how old you are, or how well you cook, chicken and rice tops the list of favorite comfort foods around the world. For most of us, the smell and taste of chicken and rice evoke some of the best memories of childhood. The chances are good that your grandmother always made this delicious, filling and healthy dish for you whenever you came to visit and she passed the recipe on to your mother.

My mom’s easy recipe, of course, has a distinctly Lebanese flair, subtly spicing up an old standby with allspice and cinnamon to give the chicken a Middle Eastern flavor while pungent almonds and pine nuts turn the rice from a staid side dish into a crunchy, savory surprise.

Every Lebanese family serves a version of this dish handed down from mothers to daughters and every daughter thinks their mother’s version is the best.  I’ll admit I’m no different.   The smell of the chicken broth and the butter-toasted nuts still conjures images of my high school years and the pure bliss of snuggling up on the couch with a big bowl of leftovers.

1 whole roasting chicken

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 cinnamon sticks

 

2 cups long grain rice

1 tablespoon butter

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon allspice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 cups reserved chicken broth

 

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 stick butter

1. Place whole chicken in a stock pot and add enough water until the chicken is just barely covered. Add the cinnamon sticks, salt and pepper. Simmer over a medium heat until the chicken is tender, about 1 hour.

2. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and set it aside to cool and reserve the broth.

3. Wash and drain the rice. In a medium pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter, add the rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

4. Mix in the salt, allspice and cinnamon, stir and add the reserved chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.

5. While the rice is cooking, sauté the almonds and pine nuts in butter until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

6. Debone the chicken and set the pieces aside.

7. On a large platter or wide-mouthed bowl, create a mound of rice in the center. Pour the nuts and butter over the rice. Arrange the chicken pieces around the rice.

Serve with a  green salad dressed with lemon, oil, and garlic.

serves 4-6

Sahtain!

 

 

Milani Chicken

cropdoneMuch like many newlyweds of my generation, when I first got married, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen trying to find my bearings and pretend I knew what the hell I was doing.   My mom and cousin were on speed dial for traditional Lebanese food assistance and just basic technique direction. There were so many opinions in my family about how and what to cook I found myself struggling to develop an approach for my tastes and style.  One time in particular I remember having a craving for the chicken kabobs my cousins served in their restaurant.  I didn’t have their recipe but I really wanted something a little more crunchy and garlicky.  Milani Chicken was born.   Even though I didn’t stray very far from home and tradition, my first original concoction has stood the test of time.  It’s a favorite of my family and friends and in permanent rotation in our household.  It also fueled my confidence as a young cook and opened the door for more experimenting in the kitchen.

My son Oliver loves the brown, crunchy bits of garlic the best  He comes behind me and scapes every last morsel from the pan.  If you don’t let the garlic get really toasted and brown then this recipe will just be another chicken dish.  Let it brown and then let it brown a little more.  Just like the pictures.  xoxox

4 boneless breast of chicken
One head of garlic mashed with a mortar and pastle
Juice of one lemon
1/2 C olive oil
2 heaping tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mash the garlic with a mortar and pestle

motar

2. Cut the chicken in cubes. Add all ingredients and mix.

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3. Spill into a hot non-stick pan and sautéed to coat each piece.

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4.Reduce the heat and allow the chicken and garlic pieces to brown.

5.Stirring occasionally.

Not ready yet. Almost!!
Not ready yet. Almost!!

This dish is done when the garlic is brown and crunchy and each piece of chicken is a caramel color at least on one side.

Now it's done!!
Now it’s done!!

Great on the paleo diet wrapped in lettuce.

For the non-paleo diet See below

Wrap in some pita and topped with cucumber dressing, lettuce, onion and tomatoes and life is good!!  Need a video?  click here

Cucumber Dressing

2 C shredded cucumbers
2 C Sour Cream
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 salt

Shred cucumbers and lightly squeeze out excess water. Add all ingredients mix and enjoy!  Sahtain!!

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