Arroz Caldo (Rice & Chicken Ginger Stew)

I’m sick. For the second time. In a month. Yuck. It’s definitely not a fun feeling, especially after not having been sick in over 2 years. Since Steve (the hubby) and I began to transition to a whole foods, less-processed foods lifestyle, we’ve noticed the effects on our health. And since then (up until now), we haven’t really gotten the colds/illnesses we’d fall prey to every year. However, this year, I’d guess  that a combination of holiday indulging, traveling for a family wedding and lack of sleep has left me susceptible to whatever has been going around.

So of course, what am I craving? Something warm and comforting, like the traditional Filipino dish called Arroz Caldo.

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Literally meaning, “hot rice”, it’s a dish that I’ll admit as a child I used to say, “We’re having that again?” whenever we had it for dinner.  It reminded me of being sick because my mom would make it often when we didn’t feel good.

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But now, not only do I love it, but I totally appreciate why we had it as often as we did. It’s comforting (like chicken soup) and filling & hearty.  It’s such a simple dish with complex flavors and utilizes ingredients that most people already have in their kitchen: chicken, rice, ginger, garlic, salt & pepper and water/broth. That’s it. Other variations have hard-boiled eggs, chopped scallions, crispy fried garlic on top. But I kept it simple making it the way my mom does. You really can’t mess with what’s good, you know?

Some people liken the dish to congee, a Chinese rice porridge, but this version is slightly less soupy and flavored to Filipino tastes. Hope you enjoy this. Go make some, sick or not, on a cold day or warm day; you’ll love it.

Arroz Caldo

Inspired by my mom & Filipino cooks everywhere

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 pieces of chicken (any combination; I used 4 boneless, skinless thighs)
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6-8 cups water or broth
  • If using water, add 1 bouillon cube (I use a natural, vegan brand that doesn’t have MSG, trans fats or hydrogenated oils)
  • 1-2 Tbsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • chopped scallions, optional

Method:

In a heavy stockpot (such as a dutch oven), heat 1 Tbsp of oil. Sautee garlic for a few moments until golden and remove. If you’d like, you can add your chicken pieces now to brown slightly. Then add rice, water/broth and seasonings. Give the mixture a stir and cover.

Bring the stew to a light boil and stir. Then lower the heat, cover and cook for about 25 minutes, until rice is at desired consistency.  If you want it to be more “soupy”, you can add more water/broth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot with a side of chopped scallions and crispy fried garlic if desired.

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Cast Iron Chicken and Leek, Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Pasta

My brother gave me a cast iron skillet for Christmas two years ago and I absolutely love it. But I don’t use it quite as much as I’d like, so I tried to cook dinner tonight and I must say it was a success! The cast iron gives the chicken a nice sear and a really good flavor.  I also love the fact that you can put it in the oven too.

Cast Iron Chicken over Leek, Mushroom  & Sundried Tomato Pasta

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 organic whole chicken legs or 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic salt or garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 lb. pasta or rice of choice
  • 1 leek, (whites only)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1 package of mushrooms (I used baby bella)
  • Handful of sundried tomatoes (I used dried, not packed in oil)
  • 1-2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place cast iron skillet on the stove and turn on the heat – it takes time for the pan to warm.

Meanwhile, clean and trim chicken of excess fat (I keep some of the skin on to retain the flavor).  Season with a drizzle of olive oil, garlic salt/powder, salt and pepper to taste.

When the pan is hot, drizzle about 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. Then add the chicken pieces, skin side down. Be careful, it will sizzle! Let cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until most of the pink is gone.  Cover the skillet with foil and transfer into the hot oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.

While the chicken finishes cooking, prepare the pasta/rice according to package directions and set aside.  Then, clean and chop the mushrooms, garlic and sundried tomatoes.

Next, prepare the leeks: Cut off and discard the tough, green top of the leek. Slice it in half and chop into smaller pieces and soak in a bowl to dislodge the dirt in between each layer. Drain and rinse.

Take out the chicken and remove from the pan. Place the skillet back on the stove and pour in the broth. Cook for a few minutes and pick up the brown bits from the bottom. The sauce will thicken slightly.

Add the leeks and garlic and cook until soft.

Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté. Finally, add the sundried tomatoes and some salt and pepper to taste.  If you want a more substantial sauce, add broth and a pat of butter to thicken. If you made pasta, pour pasta into the pan with the vegetables and mix thoroughly. If you made rice, pour sauce over the rice when you serve. Enjoy with your tasty cast-iron chicken.