Chicken Pilaf

chicken_pilafMakes 6 servings
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Total Preparation Time: 1 hour

Suggested Accompaniments
Fresh Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Fresh Lime Juice

1 lb boneless chicken thighs
Kosher salt
3 cups white basmati rice
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups coconut milk
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
3 cloves
2 cup finely chopped white onion
2 tablespoons minced gingerroot
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon freshly ground coriander seed
1 teaspoons turmeric
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup cilantro chiffonade

Season the chicken with salt and let stand in the refrigerator for 20 – 30 minutes.

Put the rice in a large bowl and fill the bowl with cold water from the tap. Swish the grains around gently with your hand then pour off the water. Wash the rice about 7 more times in this way, or until the washing water loses its murkiness and remains clear.

Cover the rice in the bowl with lukewarm water from the tap and let soak for 20 minutes. Drain the rice in a sieve.

Heat the stock and coconut milk in a small pot over moderately high heat until boiling. Heat the oil in a 8-quart stew pot over moderate heat until warmed through and add the cumin, cinnamon and cloves. Cook for about 1 minute, or until the spices are fragrant. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened (don’t let it color), about 3 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, coriander, turmeric and the bay leaves and drained rice, stirring to coat the rice with the oil. Add the seasoned chicken and cook on high heat for 3 minutes Add the hot stock mixture and bring back up to a boil. Season with salt.

Cover and cook over moderate heat until all the water is absorbed and the chicken cooked about 15 minutes.

Add the cilantro and fold in. cover and rest for 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Cook’s Notes
This is the kind of recipe where you want to have all your mise en place set up ahead of time, meaning your ingredients measured out and ready to go, because once you start cooking everything comes together fairly quickly. Remember to season this dish as you go, don’t wait until the end.

Another interesting point about this dish, is that the whole spices get added to the oil first at the top of the recipe to extract their flavor. They’re denser and take longer to cook. The dried, powdery spices come later because they would burn quickly if toasted in the oil. Remember to remove the whole cinnamon and cloves before serving.

Rice Tips:
Rinse the basmati rice really well in cold water. You want to agitate it, so you rinse off the starch. This could take 15 to 16 times. Rinse and repeat until the water is clear.

When you’re cooking rice – make sure your liquid is hot first before you add it, so it will cook more evenly.

Floyd stirs his rice very gently, and likes to use a rubber spatula vs. a metal spoon so that the grains don’t break and stay whole.

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