Excerpted from The New Southern Table by Brys Stephens
Post written by Reggie Macon
Chicken and rice is a classic meal combination worldwide! Several weeks ago, I stayed home during one of our recent snowstorms and cooked a delicious yet simple chicken meal spiced up with a modern twist.
Chicken has always been my favorite meal of choice. Even when I was a little boy, if my mom made chicken, I considered it to be a treat. Whether she fried, baked, sautéed, broiled or boiled the chicken, I would be the first person at the table without being prompted.
On my recent snow day, I thought about making homemade chicken pot pies but decided on making a chicken meal from Brys Stephens' new cookbook, The New Southern Table.
Brys' Saffron Chicken & Rice with Golden Beets recipe was, as my mom would say, "Just what the doctor ordered!" The earthiness of the saffron and the slight sweetness of the beets created the perfect complementary flavors that tasted amazing.
If you are looking for an interesting and yummy way to prepare chicken, I'd recommend this easy-to-make recipe.
Making Brys Stephens' Saffron Chicken & Rice with Golden Beets:
2 1⁄2 (570 ml) cups water
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon saffron threads
3 large or medium golden beets, peeled
1⁄2 medium-size carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium-size shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 piece ginger, 2 inches (5 cm) long, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons (10 ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter
1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup (185 g) basmati rice
1 teaspoon (6 g) kosher salt
Bring the water to a bare simmer. Season the chicken thighs generously all over with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, soak the saffron threads in 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) of the hot water. Cut each beet into 8 pieces if using large beets, and into 6 pieces if using medium-size beets. Place the carrot, celery, shallot, garlic, and ginger in a food processor and purée.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet, and add the butter. When the butter stops foaming, add the chicken thighs and brown well, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the chicken to a plate.
Return the pan to the heat and add the puréed vegetable mixture and the red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, 2 to 4 minutes, until fragrant. Add 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) of the hot water and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the rice and 1 teaspoon (6 g) kosher salt to the pan and stir to coat.
Nestle the chicken thighs and beets into the rice mixture. Add the rest of the hot water and the saffron with its soaking liquid to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Add a little more water to the pan if it dries out before the chicken is done, or if too moist, turn up the heat at the end to evaporate any excess liquid. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes before serving.
Yield: 2 to 4 servings
Often oversimplified as “y’all” cuisine, Southern food, at its heart and soul, has always been fueled by local ingredients and flavors. Okra, peaches, pecans, and collard greens are just a few of the beloved Southern ingredients found on farms—and dinner tables—all across the American South. However, many world cuisines have developed age-old flavor combinations, techniques, and dishes based on these very same ingredients—from lima beans and sweet potatoes in South America to corn and watermelon in Asia. With 100 recipes, each showcasing home-grown ingredients, The New Southern Table tours through French, Mediterranean, Asian, and Latin cuisines.
Try Greek-inspired Okra with Tomato, Feta, and Marjoram or Caribbean-infused Coconut Hoppin’ John. Savor flavor-infused main dishes such asHerb Grilled Bison with Fig Chutney and sides such as Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Yogurt—a unique spin on meat and potatoes. Sicilian Watermelon Pudding elegantly balances sweet, sour, and bitter flavors.
With simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, the recipes in this book will quickly become down-home favorites at American tables, new and old.