I want to say the star of this dish is the chicken. But that would be lying to you. Because this, my friends, is all about the RICE!
What makes this rice so special, you might ask? Well, it’s like cooking the rice in triple strength chicken stock because the chicken is cooked ON TOP of the rice. So it gets the full benefit of all the juices from the chicken seeping into it while it cooks. Add the fresh flavours of lemon and boom! You will knock the socks off anyone you serve this too!
Big promises I know….but I have third party validation of this. Someone who always tells me the truth about my dishes. Especially “inventions” which I often pass on because I know I’ll get truthful feedback. I do love my friends dearly, but honestly, not everything I make them can be “OMG, this is so delicious!!” (Seriously, I love my friends, love them to bits!)
So in this particular case, her family raved about the rice so I’m just passing on that message. (PS She was quick to point out that the chicken was lovely too, she just said that the STAR of the dish was the rice! I’m totally cool with that! )
This is not an authentic Greek dish (as far as I know!) but it is made using classic Greek ingredients. It uses the same technique I use for my One Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice. There’s nothing tricky or ground breaking, it’s just about getting the liquid to rice ratio right. Rice baked in the oven requires a lot more water than when it’s cooked on the stove. And when you plop chicken on top of the rice, it drops liquid so you need to take that into account.
To make this in one pot (well, pan – why do I keep writing “pot”??!), the chicken is seared in the pan first, then the rice is added, the chicken placed back on top then it’s popped in the oven. The magic happens while it’s baking. As the chicken cooks, all the juices seep into the rice which are soaked up by the rice and add incredible flavour. INCREDIBLE flavour. It honestly is like triple strength chicken stock.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I can’t hold back any longer. I need some lunch! – Nagi
- 5 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in (Note 1)
- 1 - 2 lemons, zest + 4 tbsp lemon juice (Note 7)
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp salt (normal salt, not kosher or sea salt flakes)
- 1½ tbsp olive oil, separated
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 cup long grain rice (Note
- 1½ cups chicken broth / stock
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- ¾ tsp salt (normal table salt)
- Black pepper
- Finely chopped parsley or oregano (optional)
- Fresh lemon zest (highly recommended)
- Combine the Chicken and Marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag and set aside for at least 20 minutes but preferably overnight.
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
- Remove chicken from marinade, but reserve the Marinade.
- Heat ½ tbsp olive oil in a deep, heavy based skillet (Note 2) over medium high heat.
- Place the chicken in the skillet, skin side down, and cook until golden brown, then turn and cook the other side until golden brown. Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Pour off fat and wipe the pan with a scrunched up ball of paper towel (to remove black bits), then return to the stove.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until translucent. Then add the remaining Rice ingredients and reserved Marinade.
- Let the liquid come to a simmer and let it simmer for 30 seconds. Place the chicken on top then place a lid on the skillet (Note 3). Bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender (so 45 minutes in total).
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, garnished with parsley or oregano and fresh lemon zest, if desired.
For drumsticks, you won't be able to sear them as successfully, but that's ok, just sear briefly and bake for the full time (45 minutes).
This can be made with breast as well but it won't be as juicy because the meat isn't as juicy. :)
2. The fry pan I used was 26cm / 10" in diameter and 6cm/2.4" deep. It's the perfect size for this.
3. I don't have a lid for the fry pan I used but I have a lid for a larger pot which I just placed on top. Otherwise, foil works just fine, or even a baking tray.
4. I garnished this with slices of lemon which I seared in the pan after cooking the chicken.
5. How to make this entirely on stove top (readers' request). Though the result isn't quite the same as baking because you sacrifice either the chicken juices mixing in with the rice OR the crispy skin, it can be made entirely on the stove. There are two options:
a) Cook the chicken completely on the stove, set aside and cook the rice on the stove (reduce the liquid by ½ cup). To cook the rice, just follow the recipe directions up to the point just before putting it in the oven. Instead of doing that, put the lid on and cook on medium low until the liquid is absorbed (about 12 - 15 minutes). When the rice is almost ready, pop the chicken back in on top of the rice and put the lid on to warm up, and finish cooking the rice. This will yield a chicken with crispier skin than the second method.
b) The 2nd method is to sear the chicken but not cook it through, then pop it on to of the rice to finish cooking while the rice cooks. This method is easier and you will get the benefit of the chicken juices mixing in with the rice while it cooks but you will lose the crispiness of the skin.
What I would suggest is using skinless, boneless thigh fillets instead, that way you don’t have to worry about the skin crispiness but you get all the flavour!
6. This recipe will work with long grain, medium and short grain rice but I recommend long grain because it is the least sticky of the three types. It will also work with jasmine, normal brown rice, wild rice and normal basmati rice. But NOT brown basmati rice (takes much longer to cook). Risotto and paella rice are also not recommended.
7. You need enough lemon to get 4 tbsp of lemon juice which will be 1 large or 2 small lemons. Use all the zest from the lemon(s) that you use.