March 23, 2011

Ginger Chicken with Rice

I love the idea of a lazy Sunday in the kitchen. The whole family together, talking and laughing. Chopping, browning, stirring, simmering, braising and then sitting down to a long, leisurely meal.

But it never seems to work out that way. No matter how free our weekend appears on a Friday evening, Sunday afternoon usually finds us running errands, tackling home improvement projects and driving to and from birthday parties.

This past weekend was no different. By the time Sunday evening rolled around, I only had about an hour to get dinner on the table. I reached back to a recipe I’d tried once before. It was a recipe for ginger chicken with rice, which I’d found in Food & Wine magazine. (You can find the original recipe here.) The beauty of this dish is that it’s prepared entirely in a rice cooker. You layer in your ingredients, and then let the rice cooker do all the work.

The first time I’d made the recipe with mixed results. The rice and chicken were perfectly cooked. But the ginger, which I’d cut into matchsticks as the recipe instructed, was a bit overpowering.

This time I grated the ginger instead of cutting it. You could still taste the ginger, but without having to bite into a big, spicy chunk of it. I made a few other changes to the recipe, cutting down on the amount of chicken and replacing the water/bouillon mixture with chicken broth. The result was a healthy, delicious one-pot dinner.

Next time I might leave out the chicken altogether and serve the ginger, spinach and coconut-infused rice as a side dish.

I grated the ginger on a ceramic ginger grater from Williams Sonoma. This is a great kitchen tool. You rub peeled ginger over the little ceramic nubs and end up with ginger pulp and juice, separated out from the fibers.

There’s really not much else to this recipe. You cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces and assemble the rest of your ingredients.

Then mix the rice, chicken and ginger together in the rice cooker. Layer on the spinach, then add the chicken broth, coconut milk and salt. The spinach releases its liquid into the rice as it cooks. And the coconut milk gives the rice a lovely, subtle, coconut flavor.

Finally, just turn your rice cooker on and walk away. The cooker will turn itself off when the chicken and rice are cooked.

Ginger Chicken with Rice

adapted from Food & Wine magazine

1 cup rice
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 packed cups baby spinach
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup unsweetened lite coconut milk
¾ tsp kosher salt

1. In a rice cooker, combine the rice with the chicken and ginger. Arrange the spinach on top. Pour the coconut milk and chicken broth into the cooker and season with salt.
2. Turn the cooker on. The dish should be done in about 40 minutes (when the cooker turns itself off).
3. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, spoon into bowls and serve.

Serves 3

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