Updated Wednesday, December 10th, 2008
Total Time: 45
Yield: 6 servings
In addition to being a bona fide rocket scientist, my dad is a great cook (and a great dad). He's tackled everything from baklava to tempura to grilled oysters to making waffles with his grandchildren. His chicken and rice recipe is my favorite from his considerable repertoire. I never wanted to learn how to make it myself, because it was always his dish. Now I make it when I miss him or if I have to feed a crowd. (This recipe may be increased or decreased quite easily, and my sister Sarah always asks Dad to make a double batch.) Oh, and the crunchy crust that ideally forms on the bottom of the pan (the Spanish call it soccarat) is so worth the family fight it fosters. Traditionally, Dad sips a glass of red wine or gin while making this dish, but use your own discretion. He also uses a paper bag to dredge the chicken in flour. The bag usually has a small leak somewhere, so flour ends up all over the kitchen counter, the floor, and his clothing (including his eyeglasses). Consider yourself forewarned.
In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot (cast iron works well) over medium heat, add 1/4 cup olive oil and cook onions until softened. Remove onions from pan and reserve.
Place flour and chicken in a large paper bag and shake gently to coat chicken with flour. Raise heat to medium-high. Shake excess flour from chicken, and cook in pot in batches, adding more oil as needed (it may get quite dark, and that's okay), until well browned on all sides. Then remove chicken to a plate. Stir in jalapenos and cook 1 minute.
Add reserved cooked onions and chicken back to pot. Add chicken broth, saving one empty can. Add 2 cans' worth of water. Bring to a boil; then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook 25 minutes.
Slice top and bottom off green pepper. Carefully run a knife in a circular motion around the inside to remove white membrane and seeds (be careful not to puncture the pepper). Slice into thin rounds.
Add rice to pot, stirring well. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Layer pepper slices in a decorative pattern over mixture in pot, and top with tomatoes. Cover and cook 10 minutes more. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes before serving.
In this issue: Summer Off the Beaten Path
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