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.
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!!!