Sometimes you make a new recipe that ends up being beyond any initial expectations! And this is one of those recipes! Be sure to not reduce any of the spices because this is a wonderful rice dish with the spices being the star of the dish! Make a large batch because it warms over nicely and what a nice treat to have the next day. It can be made in a cast iron skillet or in a heavy skillet. Be sure to use cinnamon sticks as it introduces a fabulous aroma and flavor. Your house will smell heavenly!
This dish can be made in one pan or two. I use two because while the chicken is cooking I have the stir fry pan going with the remaining ingredients. The cooking time is also going to depend upon if you are using white or brown rice. Remember to rinse the brown rice until the water runs clear and typically it takes longer to cook than white rice. For a meatless version, try substituting tofu for the chicken. The spices are a starting point – once you do your taste test you might want to add more!
This dish can be made with cubed chicken for a stir fry approach. The first time I did not cube the chicken and I spent more time on the dish presentation. I used slivered almonds instead of sliced almonds. For this presentation a chunkier almond works better than the sliced. Doesn’t this look delicious!
A stir fry approach is also fun to serve. In this presentation I use sliced almonds and did not spend much time on the presentation because it is a casual dish. This could work well on a buffet where your guests serve themselves because the chicken is diced as part of the dish.
There is not a sauce with this dish and I believe there is enough flavors that it is not needed. However if you really would like a sauce I would consider increasing the liquid ingredients and spices since the more liquids you add will water down the spices. I am not sure if extra liquids will have any negative impact on the rice – you do not want mushy rice. So you may consider creating a sauce in a separate pan.
This recipe was inspired by The new Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook. This is an awesome cookbook that you might want to consider if you like cooking with a cast iron skillet.
4 to 6 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless
Freshly Ground Pepper
¼ cup Orange Juice
⅛ cup Lemon Juice
1 tbsp. Honey
Freshly Grounded Pepper
1 Large Sweet Onion, diced
2 – 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Cups Carrots, diced or sliced
1 cup Jasmine Rice or Brown Rice
2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 tsp. Ground Coriander
2 Cinnamon Sticks, 3-inch
2 Bay Leaves
Dried Fruit Ingredients
½ cup Golden Raisins, preferred
¼ to ½ cup Dried Apricots
2 ½ cups Chicken Broth, low sodium
3 to 4 tbsp. Orange Liqueur
Topping Ingredients (optional)
Almonds, slivered or sliced
Step 1: Marinade
Cut the chicken into bite size pieces if you want the dish more like a stir-fry. Place in a zip lock bag with the marinade and place in the refrigerator for a few hours – turning occasionally.
Step 2: Rice
In a large cast iron pan or stir fry pan, add olive oil, heat and then add onions. Cook for a few minutes and then add carrots and the garlic. Add spices, chicken broth and rice. Cover, bring to a boil then simmer for about 15-25 minutes. The time depends upon if you are using white or brown rice. Remember to rinse the brown rice and it typically takes longer to cook. I prefer to have the brown rice partially cooked before adding the chicken and dried fruit otherwise the fruit can become too soft and the chicken might get a bit dry.
Step 3: Chicken
While the rice is cooking, heat a heavy pan with olive oil then add the chicken and season. Discard the zip lock bag with the marinade. Cook the chicken part way as you will be adding it to the rice mixture to finish cooking. How long you cook the chicken depends upon if you cube it or not. If you want to make this meal in only one pan then cook your chicken partway first, then place on a plate and cover with foil. Then use this pan to start step 2 and then progress to step 4.
Step 4: Add Chicken to Rice Mixture
Add the chicken that is cooked partway through, the dried fruit and orange liqueur. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30-minutes until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender. You might need to add more liquids if the rice mixture becomes too dry. Consider adding a little orange juice to the chicken broth so you do not lose too much flavor by just adding more chicken broth. Remove cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Serve and garnish with the almonds and more dried apricots.