Chicken, Artichoke and Preserved Lemon with Basmati Rice

Another one pot wonder that is great for a quick, easy and delicious mid week meal.

The flavours of this dish are lovely, comforting and warming, yet tangy and tasty.  The basmati rice adds such a wonderful aroma – don’t substitute it.

If you keep a jar of pitted olives and a jar of artichokes in your fridge, this dish will always be within easy reach.

To make a vegetarian version of this dish, double the quantity of artichokes and olives, and add some toasted pine nuts and toasted flaked almonds at the end. And of course, use vegie stock.

Prepare all the ingredients before starting and have them ready to add as you go – it will all come together so much quicker.

Serves 4

  • 2 chicken breast fillets sliced into thin strips (or 3 thigh fillets but trim the fat)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablepsoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup basmati rice – unwashed
  • 1 cup chopped marinated artichoke pieces (discarding any sharp end bits)
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • The rind of 1 quarter of preserved lemon, diced (if you don’t have any, use the zest of 1 small lemon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 250 ml chicken stock
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • pepper
  • extra parsley

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan that has a lid.  Saute the onions for about 5 minutes until soft, stirring.  Add the garlic, stir. Add the chicken pieces and sauté until the pieces are golden.

Add the unwashed rice, and stir around to coat in the pan oils.  Add the lemon, artichokes, olives, bay leaf, parsley and pepper (only use salt if not using preserved lemon, which is salty enough).  Stir through then add the stock.

Scrape down the sides of the pan to ensure all the rice grains are in the mix and not stuck to the side.  Place a clean dry tea towel over the top of the pot, put the lid on, and fold up the sides of the tea towels over the lid of the pot.

(This is a trick I learnt from one of my favourite cookbook authors, the great Claudia Roden. The cloth absorbs excess steam, helping the rice to cook without becoming gluggy).

Turn the heat down very low, and steam for 15 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes to avoid burning and sticking. You may or may not need to add a dash of water, if it seems to be drying out or burning.  Drop the heat even further if it is burning.

When finished, turn off and leave the rice to continue cooking/steaming with the lid on for 5-10 minutes.

Scatter with extra chopped parsley (and toasted nuts if you wish) before serving.

BAZ THE WINO SAYS:

I reckon Bec only cooked this because she knew it would go so well with Shiraz, and that’s what we’re drinking. Tahbilk Shiraz from central Victoria has the necessary spice and weight to stand up to the flavours of the olives and lemon, and isn’t hard to find – Dan’s do it for about $16.

Another great find is Barossa Valley Estates’ E Minor Shiraz, which comes with a sensational pedigree (made by former Grange winemaker John Duval and little brother to the E&E Black Pepper Shiraz which consistently outscores Grange in the major wine mags) and is full of lovely dark fruit without being over-oaked like so much SA shiraz. It can be had for about $13 at Dan’s which is cracking value.

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