Grilled Chicken, Jeweled Rice & A Spinach Salad

SUNDAY

Grilled Whole Chickens  |  Jeweled Rice  |  Spinach Salad with Citrus~Parmesan Vinaigrette

Intro Collage

 

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It felt like winter here today…the sun remained behind a blanket of dark grey clouds all day and as I sat in front of our large bay window in the living room this morning, enjoying a fresh cup of coffee, I watched as a soft mist coated the yellow blossoms on my tomato plants.  It was peaceful.  Even the day’s activities {horses, riding and a baseball game} were mellowed by the absence of blazing sunshine.  We were all home by 1:00pm and, after finishing a light lunch, we found ourselves lingering in the kitchen for most of the afternoon.  Michael, “worked” {read: kept track of golf and other various sporting activities online  in between the intermittent business emails} on his laptop at the kitchen table while I baked a very special chocolate cake {I will share it with you tomorrow}, the children chatting with, at and around us as they patiently waited to lick the cake batter bowl and then the ultimate prize…sharing that first slice of warm cake right out of the oven!

With the cake finished, the allure of the kitchen seemed to fade for the younger members of our family and they scattered upstairs, leaving Michael & I to tend to the business of dinner.  One of my favorite things about the weekend is cooking with Michael…this evening he managed the chicken and I turned my attention to a beautiful Persian rice.

The recipe for the rice can be found in the current issue of Bon Appétit and it’s author, Samin Nosrat, is a Bay Area chef.  This rice is special.  It is a perfect Sunday dish because, as she writes…”making this rice is a time commitment and a labor of love”.  You will use several pots and dishes in preparing this rice {Michael said “wow” a few times as he observed the congestion on our kitchen countertops} but the effort was rewarded and I whole-heartedly agree with Ms. Nosrat…”the finished dish is stunning.”  My adaptations to the recipe were slight…I used salted & pre-roasted pistachios {which saved a step} and whole cane sugar as opposed to white sugar.  I also substituted dried cherries for dried barberries and used a brown basmati rice.  I almost substituted our regular brown rice into the recipe but after reading this article, I decided to go with the basmati version for added flavor.  Grilling the butterflied chickens, seasoned with only some salt and pepper yields incredibly moist meat and the Citrus~Parmesan Dressing on our simple spinach salad complemented the flavors of the Jeweled Rice.

Jeweled Rice {adapted from Bon Appétit}

  • ¼ cup pistachios {I used shelled, salted & pre-roasted nuts}
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 2 cups brown basmati rice
  • Sea salt
  • 1 orange
  • ½ cup whole cane sugar
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into matchstick-size pieces
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 5–8 minutes; let cool. Set nuts aside.
  2. Place rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water until water runs clear. Cook rice in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until grains have lengthened but are still firm, 6–7 minutes; drain and rinse under cold water. Spread rice on another rimmed baking sheet; let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, remove zest from orange and thinly slice lengthwise {reserve flesh for another use}. Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add orange zest and carrots, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender, 15–20 minutes; drain and set aside {discard syrup}.
  4. Combine cherries and raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot water; let soak 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Place saffron in another small bowl and add ¼ cup hot water; set aside.
  5. Heat butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown, 8–10 minutes. Add cardamom, cumin, turmeric, and 1 tablespoon saffron mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Reduce heat to low, add cherries and raisins, and cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Stir in reserved nuts and orange zest and carrot mixture; season with salt. Set fruit and nut mixture aside.
  7. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium heat. Add half of rice, spreading evenly; top with fruit and nut mixture, then remaining rice, spreading evenly. Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke 5–6 holes in rice all the way through to bottom of pot {to help release steam and help rice cook evenly}.
  8. Drizzle remaining saffron mixture over rice. Place a clean kitchen towel over pot, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and secure loose edges of towel on top of lid, using a rubber band or masking tape.
  9. Cook until pot begins to steam, 5–8 minutes. Reduce heat to very low and cook, without stirring, until rice is tender and bottom layer of rice is browned and crisp, 30–40 minutes.
  10. Scoop rice onto individual plates, breaking bottom crust into pieces.

Rice Ingredients Collage

The steeping saffron…

Saffron Collage

The carrot~orange zest mixture, after cooking…

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The fruit & nut mixture, cooking in the cast-iron skillet…

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Grilled Whole Chickens {adapted from Bon Appétit}

  • 2 whole chickens, butterflied {click here to view the video “How to Butterfly a Chicken”}
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Prepare grill for medium indirect heat {for a charcoal grill, bank coals on 1 side of grill; for a gas grill, leave 1 burner turned off}. Brush grill rack with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place, skin side down, on grill. Grill chicken, turning occasionally, until skin is crisp and browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 165°, 10–15 minutes per side {move chicken to cooler part of grill if it’s cooking too quickly}.  Remove chickens to a carving board and let rest 10 minutes before carving.

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P.S. … Don’t throw those backbones away!  Reserve them in a freezer bag and store in the fridge for 2-3 days {or in the freezer for up to a month} and then use them to make chicken stock.

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Spinach Salad with Citrus~Parmesan Vinaigrette

  • 4 to 6 big handfuls of baby spinach, washed and dried
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 small mandarins, peeled & sectioned
  • Citrus~Parmesan Vinaigrette {click here for recipe}
  1. Just before serving, in a large bowl, toss the spinach greens with a bit of the dressing.  Top with mandarin sections, and sliced red onion, tossing gently to combine.  Serve immediately.

Salad Collage

The finished dinner plate…

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K Initial

 

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