This is one of my favorite go-to weeknight meals because it’s fast (from the time I start it to when it’s finished, is about 25 – 30 minutes) and delicious.
I discovered this recipe on Epicurious.com over 15 years ago and I’ve experimented with every imaginable variation (different types of rice, other proteins like shrimp, beef, pork… ) it’s flexible and a crowd pleaser. My parents are from the islands and I grew up cooking a very similar dish, however I return to this one again and again because of the added kick from the orange juice and olives.
I find that it feeds my family of 4 (2 adults, 2 kids) two times (3 times or more if I double it). However, when having company it is one serving for each adult.
Note: This recipe doubles well, which provides more left overs (use a stock pot instead of a saucepan if you double it)
1 – 1.5 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken thighs marinated (ideally overnight the flavor is deeper and it saves you time when you’re cooking this, but if not, no worries) with 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (cut small or minced through a press), about ¼ cup of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
8 oz. packet of yellow rice mix with seasoning packet (i.e. Mahatma Yellow Rice) or 8 oz. of quick cooking basmati (white or brown) rice & include your own spices: 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 pinch of cinnamon, 1 pinch or ground coriander, 1 pinch of sweet paprika and 1 tsp. salt). Note, if using your own spice mix, if possible, substitute the water with chicken broth in the following step.
1 3/4 cup water or chicken broth mixed with ½ cup of orange juice (if you have a 2 cup measuring cup, I just mix them together, starting with the orange juice & then top with water or broth).
Optional: ½ cup pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives (whole if small or chopped into ½ inch pieces if using large olives).
½ cup of frozen green peas (or 1 cup of fresh sugar snap peas, stems trimmed & rinsed).
Steps to put this on your table:
Heat the olive oil in a large, wide saucepan (that can accommodate a cover) or stockpot over medium high heat until it’s hot.
Add the chicken (that’s been seasoned with garlic, salt & pepper) to the hot pan and sauté over medium-high to high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes (until chicken is lightly browned on the outsides).
Add the water (or stock if using) and orange juice to the pan with the chicken. Bring to a boil.
Add the rice, rice packet (if using) or seasonings and stir gently for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until everything is combined.
Cover the pot and reduce heat to low, set your timer for 22 minutes (if you double the recipe, then set for 25 minutes).
In the meantime, have your olives (if using) and peas on hand to put in with the rice at the end.
Once the rice is cooked (about 22 minutes) you’ll notice evenly distributed ‘holes’ at the top of the rice and that the liquid has mostly dissolved, add the peas and olives to the top of the mixture. Cover again, turn off the heat and let rest for about 4 minutes.
The peas should be bright green and cooked by this time.