When I'm feeling generous, and I offer to do things, I genuinely believe I'm going to follow through. Like, I'd be happy to take you to the airport anytime, just ask! Or, of course I'll donate something to the school auction, no prob! Or, if you have any requests for the blog, tell me and I'll customize a recipe just! for! you!
Well, I'm taking my neighbor to the airport today. And I've just agreed to donate a culinary experience for the school auction. So if I'm going for the hat-trick, that leaves, let's see, ah.
Way back in October, I opened my trap and asked if any of you had requests for recipes you wanted to see up here. I followed through on most: a pumpkin quick bread with cranberries and walnut meal for Diana, a cheddar-apple crisp for Elisa, and a cilantro-white bean spread for Charmian.
But there's one request I've ignored for 4-1/2 months:
Please find something for me to do with chicken. Something my kids will eat. Something that is not too involved. Something that doesn't taste exactly like the sad same old chicken that I've been making.
Thanks for rescuing me. The family thanks you too.
People, it's time.
Now let's be clear: the recipe I'm going to share with you isn't mine. It belongs, in spirit and in fact, to Nigella Lawson, who has this in common with me: very little. She has luxurious, shiny hair, a glorious bosom, bedroom eyes, and a honeyed British accent. I have
But that's good enough for me, and Heather, it should be good enough for you. Why?
Because this recipe, adapted from Lawson's Forever Summer, is phenomenal, and it meets all your criteria. It's not too involved, it doesn't taste sad, or old. And your kids are sure to love it. (Mine do.) Plus, though you didn't mandate attractiveness, this pilaf makes a really, really pretty meal.
Off to the airport.
Chicken and Basmati Pilaf with Saffron, Pistachios, and Peas
Adapted from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson (Hyperion, 2003)
This is an amazing meal, with beautiful sunny colors and a bright mix of flavors. It's fancy enough for company but simple enough for a Tuesday. The only necessary advanced planning is to marinate the chicken for an hour ahead of time. Feel free to switch up the nuts; Lawson calls for toasted cashews, pine nuts, and almonds as well as pistachios. I like the combination of pistachios and peas, but that's just me.
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 lemons, divided
1-1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-1/4 cups basmati rice
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or stock)
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads or ground saffron, or a little more to produce a color you like (I used more)
3-4 cardamom pods, gently crushed with a meat mallet or rolling pin
3/4 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
1/2 cup frozen peas
Minced fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
Whisk the yogurt in a medium bowl with the cinnamon and juice of 1/2 lemon. Add the chicken chunks and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the rice, tossing to coat. Pour in the broth, and add the saffron, bruised cardamom, and zest and juice of remaining lemon. Bring to a boil, then cover tightly and turn the heat down as low as possible. Cook until the rice has absorbed all the liquid, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, fetch the chicken. Heat the remaining oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, spoon some chicken into a strainer and bang over the sink to allow the excess yogurt to drip off, then pan-fry the chicken until browned and cooked through. Repeat with remaining chicken, removing to a clean plate once it's cooked.
When the rice is ready, use a fork to fluff it a bit, then scrape in the cooked chicken, the pistachios, and the peas. Let stand a few minutes so the residual heat from the rice warms the peas through. (Discard the papery cardamom pods, if desired.) Shower with parsley, for garnish.