It sounded like heaven on a plate, a nourishing meal for spring. And you know what? It is.
There are many versions of this recipe, but the one I happened to see was Mark Bittman's from his Minimalist column.
• The Recipe: Hainanese Chicken With Rice at The New York Times
I had been craving this recipe ever since I looked it up, so when opportunity presented itself, I promptly bought a high-quality chicken and an enormous stalk of fresh ginger.
Process: This is not a difficult recipe, but it is relatively time-consuming, since you need to poach the chicken, then cook the rice and assemble the final dish. Overall, it took about 2 hours to poach the chicken, let it cool, cook the rice, and pull everything else together. But the time is absolutely worth it, and you get several different components of a meal left over for later eating. It's also very hands-off; I did most of the cooking in between some strenuous bouts of household spring cleaning!
Mark Bittman's version of this was quite easy to follow, although some of his instructions were a little sparse (what size skillet should we use for the rice, Mark?). It's OK though — this is a simple recipe, and very straightforward.
What you get, when you make this recipe, is the chicken itself, which is tender, mild, and very yummy. I shredded between 3 and 4 cups of meat off the chicken. Then there is the chicken broth, flavored with ginger and garlic. It's wonderfully spicy and delicious! You only use 4 cups in the rice, so you have some leftover broth for sipping or for soups. And finally you have this scrumptious rice — slippery with oil, and fragrant with shallots and garlic.
End result: This is just a fabulous meal — it's a classic for a reason. It's simple, delicious, fresh, and easy. It's warm and homey enough for the chilly first weeks of spring, but the bright flavors of herbs, ginger, garlic, and chili paste bring this straight into the sunshine. It's light eating for springtime, and boy is it good.
It's such a great way to create good lunch leftovers, too; the rice, chicken, and broth can be combined with many other things for easy followup meals.
Do you ever cook chicken with rice? Have you tried this recipe? Or do you have other versions you recommend? I'm definitely hooked on this recipe; I'd love to try other variations!
(Images: Faith Durand)