Saturday, August 14, 2010

Spanish Chicken with Rice

On July 2, I made the "Spanish Chicken with Rice" from the Crock Pot Incredibly Easy Recipes cookbook.  What I really liked about this recipe is that it is a meal in a pot--chicken, rice, and vegetables all in one.  Thus, you don't have to really add anything for this to be a meal (though I add a salad to every dinner).  Also, this recipe is one that, although it has some preparation steps, once you've put almost the whole thing together (almost... see below), there's not really anything else that you have to do to make a meal; no further separating, cutting, or assembling required.

You begin this recipe by browning the sausage and the chicken in a frying pan.  Thus, while the meats are browning, I was cutting up all the vegetables that I didn't cut up in advance.  However, one of the things that I might try next time, if I make this recipe again, is to not cook the sausage the way they recommend.  The recipe calls for pre-cooked linguica or kielbasa, so the sausage doesn't need to cook the entire time in the crock pot to be safe to eat.  Thus, even though I browned it on both sides before adding it to the crock pot, it ended up a bit mushy in the end.

What I might do next time is to skip adding the sausage to the recipe at the beginning entirely.  Instead, I'd wait until the crock pot was almost finished cooking, then I'd heat the sausage in a frying pan (so it's more crispy and sausage-like) and add it to the recipe.

After adding both the pre-browned sausage and chicken, the recipe also asks you to cook the onion and garlic (until soft) before adding it to the crock pot.  With all this pre-cooking, one might wonder why he or she is going to be using the crock pot in the first place!  However, I could also at least just use the same pan for all of this as I assembled the dish in the crock pot.

In addition to the above ingredients, you also add rice, carrots, red bell pepper and spices.  The recipe calls for salt, pepper, and saffron threads (which are optional).  I only added the pepper.  As those who have read my previous posts know, I try not to add salt to the recipes when I'm cooking, thinking that if the recipe needs it (and it usually doesn't), I can add it to taste at the table.  As for the saffron threads, I tried to get them in the grocery store and it was something like $15 for only 4-5 threads.  My immediate thought: "This is an optional ingredient, so FORGET IT!"

The recipe also requires you to add hot chicken broth.  As you can see from the image, I just poured it into a mug and heated it in the microwave.  I mean, who really has time at this point to wait for it to boil any other way?

This image (to the left) is what the dish looked completely assembled, before I turned it on.
Now, the final ingredient to be added to this recipe is frozen peas, thawed, but they are only added for the last 15 minutes of cooking.  So, I measured out the peas, turned the crock pot on high, and let them hang out next to the crock pot while it cooked for four hours.  (If I were to cook the sausage differently, as mentioned above, I would probably cook the sausage and then add it when I add the peas.)

I'd also like to note again that this meal only cooks for four hours.  It is not a good one to make on a day that you're going to be at school or in the library all day.

This is what the crock pot looked like after the entire thing finished cooking.

As you can see, this is a complete meal from the crock pot.  I shared it with my roommate and with both agreed that it tasted good.  However, the only complaint I have is with the name.  What, exactly, makes this "Spanish" chicken with rice?  There was nothing about this that made it taste Spanish, especially since it mostly tasted like chicken since everything was cooked in chicken broth.  (On a random tangent: I wonder if it would have tasted less "chicken-y" if I had used vegetable broth instead.  Hmmm....)  My roommate noted that the rice ended up a bit mushy.  I didn't mind it so much.  The recipe calls specifically for "converted long-grain white rice."  Now, I'm not about to buy a different kind of white rice just for a recipe, so I used jasmine rice.  If I had followed the recipe and used the specific rice it calls for, it would have come out less mushy.

I honestly don't remember how many meals I got out of this recipe, but it was definitely one of the crock pot recipes where it lasted so long that I just didn't want to even eat it anymore.  It also was cheap, especially since I had already purchased many of the ingredients.  I already had the olive oil, onion, garlic, rice, carrots, chicken broth, and spices (except for the saffron threads).  Thus, the sausage, chicken, red pepper, and frozen peas only cost me $13.09.  I know that this lasted at least a week, so that's under $2.00 per meal!  Not bad for stretching a graduate-student stipend!

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