Admittedly, there are some weeknights when I am tired from work and just want a quick and simple dinner that doesn't require a lot of prep or special ingredients. This chicken and rice dish often comes to mind since it's quite seasonless. There are a few items where I feel incomplete whenever my supply starts to dwindle. Scallions and lemons are on that list because they are versatile, affordable, and pack a lot of punch.
If I recall correctly, I first read about this dish in a forum where posters listed some of their favorites from Cooks' Illustrated. If I hadn't seen it listed there, I may not have ever given it a second thought especially for such an ordinary description. It's surprising that a simple list of kitchen staples would result in an enjoyable weeknight meal. The rice is simmered with onions, garlic, and chicken stock. As the chicken stock cooks down, I then add the chicken to the skillet, which further flavors the rice. When the dish is ready to be served, the rice becomes tender, almost like risotto but without the cheese and sauciness. The freshly squeezed lemon adds that bright acidity making you savor each and every bite.
Skillet Chicken and Rice with Peas and Scallions
adapted from Cooks' Illustrated
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups brown jasmine rice
3 garlic cloves, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
5 scallions, sliced thin
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Melt 1 tbsp unsalted butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, garlic and pepper flakes until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cover.
3. Pound each chicken breast in between two sheets of plastic wrap into uniform thickness of 1/2 inch. Season with salt and pepper.
4. After the rice has cooked for 25 minutes, lay the chicken breasts on top and cover. Cook until the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 degrees.
5. Once the liquid has cooked off and the chicken is done, remove the skillet from the heat. Add the frozen peas, cover and let them warm through. Gently fold in the scallions and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.