Eilene has settled into a routine of a video night on Thursday. Three to five of her friends will show up to watch the Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones or whatever they are into that week. I, of course, am delegated to feed the masses. It is a struggle to think, “What will I feed several starving teenagers this week.”
Eilene requested chicken with rice. Jan requested brown rice. Eilene doesn’t like the texture of cooked mushrooms. Jan usually wants more vegetables and less rice.
I knew that I wanted to use chicken thighs and shrimp. The most common dish for this would be a Cajun jambalaya. However the last time I did Cajun for these kids it was not overly popular. Something milder was called for.
Several months ago, I did a lemon rice dish that was very popular with my family. Lemon pairs nicely with spinach to make it a Mediterranean Florentine dish. Some sweet peppers added for their color would also provide some vegetable bulk to the dish for the many mouths I had to feed. Finally, I find brown rice a bit boring, so some wild rice would add a nutty depth to the dish.
Karl’s Mediterranean Wild Rice Pilaf with Chicken and Shrimp
1/3 cup wild rice
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth, separate uses
1 cup brown jasmine rice
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
3 stalks celery, coarsely diced (about ¾ cup)
1 large yellow onion, coarsely diced (about ¾ cup)
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
6 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. pepper
1 green bell pepper, coarsely diced (about ¾ cup)
1 red bell pepper, coarsely diced (about ¾ cup)
1 yellow bell pepper, coarsely diced (about ¾ cup)
2 lemons, juiced
1 Tbs. lemon zest
8 oz. spinach, frozen
2 cup shrimp, pre-cooked
½ cup Italian parsley (flat leafed), coarsely chopped
1. Put the wild rice in a small pot and add 2 cups water. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
Tip: Boil the wild rice in more water that it can absorb. This allows you to cook it a higher boil, without having to worry about it drying out and burning. Later, when the rice is almost cooked, you will strain off the excess liquid and add it the Dutch oven.
2. Put the brown rice in a 4 quart pot with a tight fitting lid and add 2 cups of chicken broth. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
Tip: I prefer to use a Asian rice steamer, push the button and forget it—no burnt rice, no worries.
3. Cut the chicken thighs into large bite sized pieces and brown them well, in one tablespoon of oil, in a large Dutch oven. Remove the chicken to a plate and reserve.
4. Without cleaning the Dutch oven, add the onions, celery and salt. Sauté the vegetables until the vegetables are starting to pick up some color, about 8 minutes.
5. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic to the hole in the middle. Sauté the garlic for one minute and then stir in the rest of the vegetables.
6. Add the pepper, peppers, spinach, lemon juice, zest and the remaining chicken broth (two cups) to the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Note: Reserve a few of the peppers for garnish.
7. Drain and add the wild rice, chicken and shrimp to the Dutch oven. Continue simmering for five more minutes.
8. Fish several pieces of chicken and shrimp out of the mixture in the Dutch oven for garnish.
9. Fluff the brown rice and stir it and most of the parsley into the mixture in the Dutch oven.
Tip: I learned with my Mexican rice that the secret to a fluffy rice dish, as opposed to a soggy rice dish, was to cook the rice separately and to mix it into the sauce at the last minute.
10. Transfer the pilaf to a large serving bowl and garnish the pilaf with the reserved chicken, shrimp, peppers and parsley.