You’ll love the smell that wafts through your house when this Baked Chicken and Rice Pilaf is in the oven! The rice is cooked with cranberries and walnuts in a herb infused apple broth, with fresh apple tossed through. Combined with a simple, terrific sticky chicken, this is a fabulous quick-prep one pan dinner!
Oven Baked Chicken with Cranberry, Walnut and Apple Rice Pilaf. That’s somewhat of a mouthful of a recipe name, isn’t it??!! Oh wait – “mouthful”. *Head smack* Talk about a bad joke.
In the lead up to Christmas, it’s always festive-food-heavy around here. So I thought I’d sneak in a quick dinner recipe, with a festive spin. This is literally something I made up on the weekend. Inspired by Christmassy flavours, and wanting to use up leftover cranberries and nuts from all the Christmassy cooking that’s been going on around here.
This recipe is based on the cooking method I use for my Baked Chicken and Rice which is, as strange as it may sound, probably the all time most popular recipe on my site – ever. Which, even though it sounds so ordinary and unexciting, actually makes me really happy because I feel like Chicken and Rice is a staple meal for many households around the world, so it’s nice to be able to share one that is really super tasty and yet very simple and quick to make.
My little but big-impact trick to make a baked chicken and rice extra tasty is to “oven saute” onion in butter before adding the rice. Just plonk onion, garlic and dollops of butter in a pan and bake while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
It truly makes all the difference. There is a reason why onion and garlic is the starting point for so many savoury recipes – because it’s a great flavour base. And I start my stovetop pilaf with sautéed onion, so I do the same for my baked pilaf.
Other than that, the only other key thing that makes all the difference is getting the liquid to rice ratios right. Because soggy rice is a big no-no in my world, and baked rice is more prone to being soggy if you overdo the liquid by even 1/4 cup.
I love baking the cranberries and walnuts in the rice itself. The cranberries become plump as they suck in the apple-herb infused broth (oh wait, have I mentioned the rice is cooked in an apple juice broth?? It’s SO GOOD!!!), and the walnuts soften but still retains that soft crunch. Also, the walnuts and cranberries end up on the surface of the rice so they get nice and toasty.
Before I sign off, quick apology for delayed response to messages and cooking questions over the weekend. The RecipeTin Family were busy catering a Christmas party for Mama RecipeTin and 30 of her friends. An extensive canapé menu plus buffet, ending with what I’m calling the Never-Ending Meringue Tart, a 2 metre long construction made with a meringue tart shell, topped with cream and fruit. Easier to make than Pavlova, the meringue can be made days and days in advance, and I thought it was a nice statement dessert that is great for feeding lots of people. 🙂
Here it is at the Christmas Party. What you see there only required 7 egg whites and fed 30 people – can you believe that?? Pretty cool! Though… had to make do with baking paper to serve it. Searched my cupboards but couldn’t find a platter that long….. 😂
Oh – and here’s a photo I took when I did a test run at home. Want the recipe? 😉 (PS Reminder – super duper easy! Easier than Pav! Make as loooooong as you want!)
Umm, better actually finish up with a photo of the recipe I’m sharing today – Oven Baked Chicken and Rice Pilaf with Cranberries, Walnuts and Apple. 😂 An easy festive-inspired dinner made in one pan! – Nagi x
PS The simple Sticky Chicken is really fantastic but I have to say, the real star of this is the Cranberry, Walnut and Apple Pilaf. Can’t-Stop-Eating-It delicious.
PPS Look closely ↓↓↓ No sign of soggy, gluey rice. It’s fluffy! Fluffy fluffy!
The RICE PILAF in this recipe is sensational. Tastes savoury but with a touch of apple sweetness, herby fragrance, combined with plump cranberries, warm crunch of walnuts, and with fresh apple providing a fabulous finishing touch. The chicken is sticky from the jam (great shortcut trick) and savoury from the seasoning spices. The key step that makes a real difference is "oven sautéing" onion and garlic first. Festive inspired midweek meal to have all year round! Recipe VIDEO below.
- 5 chicken thigh fillets , bone in (about 220g / 7oz each) (Note 1)
- 1 small onion , finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 50 g / 3.5 tbsp unsalted butter (or sub with oil of choice)
- 1 1/2 cups / 270g long grain rice (Note 2)
- 1 1/4 cups / 315 ml apple juice
- 1 1/2 cups / 375 ml chicken broth
- 1 cup / 120g dried cranberries (or other dried fruit of choice)
- 1 cup / 125g walnuts , roughly chopped (or other nuts of choice)
- 1 red apple , cut into small dice
- 3/4 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/3 cup / 100g apricot jam (or other jam - Note 3)
- 2 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp All Spice
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Oil spray
- Fresh parsley , finely chopped
Preheat oven to 200C/390F (standard) or 180C/350F (fan/convection).
Use a baking dish about 22 x 33cm / 9 x 13".
Scatter onion and garlic in baking dish, dollop butter over. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove.
If your chicken has skin on it, remove it (just pull it off). Otherwise, the rice will be too greasy.
Whisk together Sticky Chicken Glaze. Add chicken, turn to coat.
Add rice, apple juice, chicken broth and Rice Herbs into the pan with the onion. Stir.
Add cranberries and walnuts. Stir.
Top with chicken - it will be partly submerged. Save glaze in bowl.
Cover with foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil - don't worry if there's still liquid (Note 4).
Spoon all remaining Glaze onto chicken. Optional: spray with oil (gives chicken a slightly nicer finish). Bake for another 30 - 35 minutes until chicken is browned.
Remove pan from oven. Rest 5 minutes. Remove chicken, add apple, then use fork to fluff rice.
Serve chicken with rice pilaf, garnished with fresh parsley if desired.
1. Drumsticks will also work great with this, no need to remove the skin and no change to cook time or temp.
I make this with skinless bone-in thigh fillets because they bake in the same time as the rice. In Australia, they are sold with the skin already off at butchers and at Woolworths (in the pre packaged section). The skin must be removed otherwise the rice will be a greasy mess.
If you make this with boneless skinless thigh fillets or breast, add them into the pot 25 minutes into the bake time (so they are in the oven for 25 minutes). Only thing to ensure is that the surface of the dish is not entirely covered with chicken - you need some space for the liquid to evaporate during the uncovered baking time.
2. RICE: This recipe is best made with long grain rice because it's less sticky than short and medium grain. Basmati and jasmine will also work - around the same cook time. For brown rice, leave it covered for 45 minutes then bake uncovered 15 - 20 minutes until rice is tender (chicken will be more tender too, other option is to add chicken 15 minutes into the bake time at the beginning but I personal would not bother).
3. JAM: You can't really taste the jam flavour that much so it will be fine to sub with another flavour of choice. Marmalade would be especially great, I think.
4. LIQUID in rice: I find that the speed at which the liquid is initially absorbed into the pan can vary, but the end result always ends up the same. The thin enamel pan in the photos and video probably heats up faster so the liquid absorbs faster. I have more liquid at the point where I remove the foil when I make this in my glass pan. But the end result is always the same so don't worry!
5. NUTRITION - there's enough rice for 7 to 8 servings because I find it's best to cook a minimum of 1.5 cups rice when using the baking method. So the nutrition shown below is for 1 piece of chicken plus 1/8th of the rice. This dish is higher calorie than most recipes I share because of the walnuts and cranberries, together accounting for about 100 calories per serving. Totally worth it - they MAKE the pilaf!!!
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
LIFE OF DOZER
Bank meetings are never dull when Dozer tags along!
(This is at the Commonwealth Bank in Mona Vale. I live in a VERY dog friendly area!!!)
(When he stood up, the carpet under him was no longer grey – it was gold. 😂)