Claypot Chicken and Rice

No, you're absolutely right, that's not a clay pot.  Although I'm thinking that even if it were, this couldn't have tasted any better than it did right out of my rice cooker.  And we have Lucky Peach to thank for dreaming up this totally inauthentic rendition of a recipe that was originally designed to probably slow cook in a clay pot over the ashes of some communal fire, while this version is one that we can throw in a rice cooker or any lidded vessel (more on that later) for a super quick and easy one-pot wonder of a meal; just throw it all in, let it cook and you have dinner.  Like, a really really good dinner.

So let me back up a second and tell you that the flavors here are Asian in origin but the miso-based marinade for the chicken from the folks at Lucky Peach didn't quite do it for me.  It's not that I didn't like theirs, it's just that the flavors seemed muddled and not all that interesting or as scrumptious as I was hoping for.  So on the next go-round I pulled out the ingredients for my go-to Asian marinade and not surprisingly, it was a home run.  The flavors brightened up and we had depth and sweet and spicy and salty and this is the way I've made it ever since.  Lots of times.

So what, you might ask, is the deal with my go-to Asian Sauce and Marinade?  Well, it was born out of laziness (only 4 ingredients) and my undying love for these flavors...

I'm fairly certain that you've seen or probably have all of these ingredients in your pantry/fridge, except perhaps for the Gochujang, which is a Korean chili sauce that I've been crushing on recently.  If you're familiar with it, you know that it's not too terribly spicy, but kind've sweet but not.  It's just so good.  I got that bottle of it at Target, but it's not the original stuff which looks like this...

If you can't get your hands on Gochujang, then any Asian chili paste like Sambal would work or just use your favorite hot sauce or whatever.  Improvise.  But it does lend some great flavor and I encourage you to hunt it down and then use it on everything.  Think of it like spicy Korean catsup.  Only waaaay better.

Anyway, those are the ingredients in the marinade I used for the chicken part of this recipe and I'm going to encourage you to make up a batch and save the leftovers in a jar in the fridge to use on salmon or to season your next noodle bowl.  Add some peanut butter to it and you've got a scrumptious dipping sauce for dumplings and egg rolls.

So, back to our Claypot Chicken and Rice that doesn't cook in a clay pot, unless you have one and want to be totally authentic and adventurous, have at it.  This version is more like your weeknight quickie that cooks up beautifully in your rice cooker OR if you don't have a rice cooker, just use your heaviest pot; a small Dutch oven would work well, and is what I used.

If you have a tight-fitting lid for your pot, then you're set, otherwise you're going to have put a couple layers of foil over the top to seal it up really well.  You really need a good seal so the rice won't dry out and the chicken will absorb all those flavors and aromas.  As it cooks, the rice on the bottom gets all dark and crunchy and yum and it all cooks into one incredibly awesome mess of deliciousness.

To get it made, you're just going to sort of dump everything into your pot or rice cooker and enjoy the heavenly aromas while it cooks. And when it's done (25 minutes on the stove; more like 45 in the rice cooker), you won't even believe that something this easy could possibly taste this good.  I like to drizzle it with a little more sauce before serving it, a few more green onions and if ambitious, some chopped cilantro.

A word about the rice.  I'm sure you guys all wash/rinse your rice before cooking, but I just have to say it anyway.  Wash/rinse your rice before cooking.  If you like your rice to taste perfect and awesome, you've got to get that starchy stuff off it.  It's simple and easy and makes all the difference.  Here's how I do it...

Grab a strainer and then find a bowl that it will fit into perfectly.  And then set your bowl and strainer in the sink and put your rice in the strainer.  Run some water over the rice and when it's completely submerged, turn off the water and swish the rice around with your fingers for about 15-20 seconds.  

You'll see the water get all cloudy.  Pick up your strainer with the rice and let it drain while you dump the water out of the bowl.  Place the strainer back into the bowl, add more water, swish and repeat. You will notice that the water is much clearer by the 3rd rinsing.  I then set the strainer in the sink so the rice can dry out a bit before cooking.  It only takes like 5 minutes.

I'm looking back at this post and shaking my head.  Only I could turn the simplest of meals into a 9-page treatise on more topics than I'm sure you were even interested in.  But there it is, once I get going....

And even if none of it was helpful or the least bit interesting, you might just go ahead and make this anyway.  Your people will thank you.  Here's how to do it... 

P.S.  I have since tried this in a slow cooker and it worked great... 1 1/2 to hours on high, depending on your slow cooker, of course.  

Claypot Chicken and Rice

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe Adapted from Lucky Peach

Serves 4

This cooks up so great if you have one of those rice cookers with the lid that locks down.  But no worries if you don't have one, any small Dutch oven kind of pot will work as well.  

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/3 cup Asian Sauce (see recipe below)
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice (rinsed and drained)
1 1/2 cups stock or water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 slice of fresh ginger (1/4" thickness)
4 scallions, sliced (2 for cooking, 2 for serving)
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro, optional
1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Combine the chunks of chicken with the 1/3 cup Asian sauce in a medium bowl and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Combine the water or stock, the rice, ginger and salt in a rice cooker or small Dutch oven.  Add the chicken and all of the sauce to the top of the rice and scatter 2 sliced scallions over the top.

If using a rice cooker, close the lid and cook for one cycle.  The chicken was cooked perfectly in my rice cooker, but if yours isn't, just give it another 5 to 10 minutes.

If cooking it stove-top style, place the pot over medium heat and bring to soft boil and then reduce the heat to low.  Make sure the lid is on tight and cook over low heat for about 25 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.

If desired, drizzle the chicken with a little more of the Asian sauce, add a couple more sliced scallions, chopped peanuts and some chopped fresh cilantro before serving.

Circle B Kitchen All Purpose Asian Sauce and Marinade

The beauty of this sauce is that you can use it to baste salmon shrimp or chicken, dress Asian noodles, use as a dipping sauce or any other application that calls to you.  You can substitute the gochujang for another Asian chili paste, but I would recommend you get your hands on some gochujang.  The flavors are so amazing.  

Makes about 1 cup of sauce

1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons (or more) gochujang (Korean Chili sauce)

Combine all of the ingredients and let sit for a few minutes before using.

To make an Asian Peanut Sauce, eliminate the sesame oil and stir in 1/4 cup peanut butter.

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