The more you cook, the more comfortable you become with flavors, combinations and techniques. The more comfortable you become, the more you are able to improvise and cook without any kind of a recipe. That’s what this dish was for me. It was a dish that I threw together based up on techniques and flavor combinations that I have picked up along the way over the last several years.
And you know what? It was really good.
1 tablespoon oil or butter
1 onion (chopped)
1 celery rib (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (minced or pressed)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
Coarse kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 can Ro*tel tomatoes & green chilies
1 cup mole sauce*
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup long grain brown rice
3-4 chicken breasts (bone in, skin removed)
3-4 tablespoons all purpose flour
Seasoning salt (like Tony Chacheres's Creole seasoning)
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
*If no mole sauce is available, you may substitute something else like some tomato paste and chili powder or omit completely.
You will also need:
Oven safe skillet with lid
Heavy skillet (like cast iron)
Sauté onion in oil or butter over medium-high heat in oven safe skillet to soften, then add celery and carrots and sauté a few minutes more. Add garlic and stir while cooking for just a few seconds. Next, add Mexican oregano, cumin and coriander and stir while cooking until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Salt and pepper the mixture. Next add Ro*Tel tomatoes, about 1/2 cup of mole sauce, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil and add rice. Let the mixture boil on the stove top until chicken is ready to add.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Season flour with seasoning salt, kosher salt and ground pepper. Lightly coat chicken breasts in flour and pan fry to lightly brown in a separate skillet (cast iron). (I did this in some bacon fat and it was awesome!!!)
Once lightly browned on all sides, place chicken directly on top of the boiling rice/vegetable mixture. Cover with a lid and place in a 375 F oven. Bake for close to an hour until chicken is done (170 F) and rice is tender. Remove from the oven and use the remaining mole sauce over the top of each chicken breast and return to oven to heat for just a few minutes. (Or, you may try adding the mole on top of the chicken earlier. It was just a last minute thought for me.)
Note: Resist the urge to reach in and periodically stir the rice. From my understanding, constantly messing with brown rice will make it sticky and gross. Don’t do it. Just let it bake on it’s own and it’ll turn out great.