On a warm Sunday afternoon last July, I baked chicken and rice for my wife, son and granddaughter in a 12-inch deep Dutch oven. We were camped at at the Kit Carson Campground in Toyable National Forest.
Since we had just spent the day in South Lake Tahoe, I wanted to cook a dish that assembled quickly. So I picked up a package of chicken thighs at the market. A one-pot meal, like chicken and rice, would be ready within the hour.
The marriage of rice, tomato sauce and chicken thighs makes one of the best Dutch oven dishes that I can think of. Sprinkle a healthy dose of hot pepper sauce over the rice and you have created a dish that qualifies as pure comfort food.
Here's how I prepared the dish:
Heat 1 or 2 tablespoons bacon grease (from the morning breakfast) in skillet over a bed of hot coals. When hot, brown 4 seasoned chicken thighs on both side. This is one of those times when I can't tell you how long it takes to crisp the skin and give the chicken a head start.
Meanwhile, dice a medium onion (I use sweet onions), mince 3 cloves garlic and chop 1 or 2 small chili peppers (jalapeno or Serrano). Heat some bacon fat in a 12-inch Deep Dutch oven and sweat until soft and translucent. Add 1-1/2 cups long grain rice. Stir to coat with the oil. Cook for the next several minutes, stirring frequently. I like to quickly fry the rice until it takes on a light brown color.
Add 3 cups chicken stock with 2 tablespoons tomato paste mixed in. Stir, then place the lid on top of the Dutch oven. Add a shovelful of coals from the campfire to the lid and cook until rice and chicken are done.
Prepare a side dish or two while the rice and chicken bake in the Dutch oven. Try a tossed green salad with a light drizzle of your favorite vinaigrette. I enjoy cilantro lime dressing. We enjoyed a tossed salad with blue cheese crumbles that was dressed with extra virgin olive oil and a spritz of fresh lemon juice. As pictured here, broccoli was the side.
In the real world, you need 18 minutes to cook white rice until tender. Allow extra time in camp. How much time depends on the ambient temperature, number of coals on the lid and under the oven and the amount of heat generated by the coals.
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