During that first year of grad school when money was tighter than a corset on an aspiring debutant, I started to look for dinners using only a little meat or none at all. I fortunately came upon this chicken cilantro recipe. After some tweaking I now have a deliciously filling dinner. Using only 1/2 a lb of chicken we satisfy 6 adults, appease my picky toddler, and mess only one pot! I’m a huge fan of any dinner that makes less dishes. My family loves this dinner, its tasty, well rounded, budget friendly and fills you up!
So I start by rehydrating my onion, for this recipe that’s putting a 1/4 cup dry chopped onion in a bowl with 1 cup water and let it sit for 20 min. In the mean time I chop my chicken (1 inch cubes), cilantro, and green onions. *I only use 1/2 a lb of chicken as I’ve found this makes it a better chicken to rice ratio, but you’re welcome to do 3/4 lb if you prefer.
Then I shred my carrots, chop cilantro, slice the green onion, and measure out the rest of the ingredients. If you prefer fresh garlic cloves, you will need to mince those as well.
Once all the chopping and measuring is done I pour 1 T olive oil into my 4 quart pot, and then turn my stove to medium heat. When the oil starts to waft, or ripple, I pour the rehydrated onion in (fresh is actually better, I just always have dry on hand) and let it sweat, cooking until translucent but not necessarily brown. If you’re like me and run out of liquid at this point add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and then add your diced chicken. I find its best to stir the chicken as little as possible.
Once you get as much chicken touching the bottom as possible let it sit for a while until that side is cooked, and if you’re lucky close to a golden brown stage. At this point you may need to add another tablespoon of olive oil (if you didn’t already when you added the chicken), then flip the chicken and let the second side have as much time resting on the heat until cooked through. Constantly stirring can make you lose flavor and texture of the chicken (and it just takes longer too).
Then stir in your minced garlic and let it cook for a minute or so. Without adding any liquid stir in the rice and all remaining seasonings until the rice is coated with the oil and seasonings. Allow this mixture to cook for a minute or two. Then add your carrots, cilantro, and green onions. Stir constantly for 2 minutes as they reduce down.
Once the vegetables are reduced add your water and curb that impulse to stir. Just let it come to a boil and then turn the heat down to simmer and place the lid on top at a @#!*% angle. Let it cook until the rice is tender (about 20 minutes, but check at 10). Once all water has evaporated then remove from heat and fluff with a fork and enjoy!
Chicken Cilantro Rice
2-3 T Olive Oil, divided
1 cup onion, about 1 medium onion, or rehydrate 1/4 c dry onion
1/2-3/4 lb chicken, 1″ cubes
3 garlic cloves, minced; or 3 t already minced garlic from jar
1 1/2 cup white long grain rice
1 t cumin
1 1/2 t salt
1/8 t black pepper
1 cup carrots, shredded (about 4-5 carrots)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
3 cups water, can add more flavor with chicken stock.
I hope you enjoy this family favorite or ours!
What’s your favorite recipe using scant amounts of meat?