Finally, I found and perfected a one-pan dinner that ticked all the boxes – both the raw rice and the chicken are cooked simultaneously at the same time. And it’s totally hands-off. In contrast to stovetop cooking rice, which requires more attention, you put the pan in the oven, set the timer and walk away. This recipe is extremely easy to prepare; active prep time is under 10 minutes; and it is highly, highly tasty! My husband and guests alike have complimented the recipe.
Preparation and cooking time
Number of servings and serving size
8 Chicken thighs and or drumsticks (see notes)
3 cups Rice
2 tbsp Herb butter
1 ½ cups Water
1 ½ cups Chicken stock
1 Onion chopped (brown, white or yellow)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Chop the onion into fine pieces.
- In a pan, add two knobs of herb butter and heat.
- Add the onion and fry lightly until it is transparent.
- Add the rice spices – turmeric, cumin and cardamom.
- Add the rice and saute until the spices have been evenly distributed in the rice.
- Pour all of the rice into a casserole and make sure it evenly covers the base.
- Marinate the chicken thighs with the chicken spices and herbs – paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, black pepper, salt and rosemary. (You can also marinate it whatever way you like it)
- Now you need to arrange the marinated chicken thighs evenly on top of the rice. If you love garlic like me, you can add one or two cloves of garlic to the rice, either chopped or unchopped. The good thing about oven baking is by the time it’s done, it will be mashy and you can easily spread it throughout the rice making it impossible to spot.
- Pre Boil the water you are to add to the rice. This is helpful to prevent the rice from taking too long to cook and turning out mushy. To the rice, add equal parts of the boiled water and chicken stock into the casserole dish.
- Use an aluminium foil to wrap over the casserole and bake in the oven for 30 mins. Thereafter remove the foil and spray/brush the chicken with oil. (You can skip this step but doing it will give your chicken a nice golden brown finish.) Finally, bake for another 20 mins or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fluffy.
- Use a fork to poke the rice to check if it is done. If you’re satisfied, remove the casserole from the oven and let it stand for 3 mins before you fluff up the rice to mix it all. Garnish with parsley and serve whilst hot. Bon Appetit!
13. While the chicken and rice are resting, prepare mushrooms by cutting them into slices of your choice. Over relatively high heat cook the garlic quickly in a minimal amount of fat. When the garlic is fragrant, add the mushrooms and cook them until they have softened. Once they’re ready add in the chives and make sure to season with salt and pepper.
14. You want to remove the mushrooms from the stove. Remove the chicken pieces from the top of the casserole and transfer the mushrooms to the top of the casserole. Using a fork gently mix the mushrooms throughout the rice. Then once they’re evenly spread, arrange the chicken back on top of the rice in the casserole. Using any remaining chives and parsley you can garnish the dish. Serve immediately to ensure that it’s still hot.
The rice is amazingly delicious. It is buttery and garlicky, with a nice texture. It is tender but not mushy, and it has all the flavour from the chicken juices, plus crispy bits on the edges that I would like to fill my plate with.
What to serve with
It is a great idea to add a nice salad that has some salad leaves, go ahead and season it with a dressing of your choice. (French dressing and Vegeta are my go-to’s these days) Alternatively, you can steam some vegetables and then add salad dressing immediately as they’re still hot. This will encourage them to absorb the dressing making them more interesting than your regular steamed vegetables.
Notes and FAQ
- The best thighs to use for this recipe are the ones with skin and bone-in. This is because they still need the same amount of time to cook in the oven as the rice. So at the end of 50 mins, both the chicken and the rice are ready.
- Check the kind of thighs you have before cooking. If they’re fatty thighs it could make the rice not cook well and turn up gooey and sticky which you don’t want. To remedy this, you want to remove the skin and some of the excess fat.
- If you prefer to use chicken drumsticks, again you can use them with or without the skin. Both options work well and in the case of drumsticks, you don’t have to worry if they’re fatty because they anyways have less fat than thighs. Taste-wise, we personally prefer skin on drumsticks.
- Because boneless chicken breasts or boneless thighs cook faster in the oven if you use them be sure to add them after the rice has cooked for 20 mins in the oven. The meat will only need 20-30 minutes of baking in this case.
- Be sure to use ‘normal’ white rice like plain, long, Jasmin, and Basmati. But do not use any special grains of rice like paella, risotto or brown rice because they take longer and things might get complicated.
- Butter, garlic & onion flavour base – this forms the flavour base for the rice.
- Mushroom – If you’re a lover of mushrooms then you might want to add them to the rice. (of course, this is optional and the dish is still delicious without them, but so much better WITH THEM) If you decide to include them, make sure to thoroughly mix them with the rice.
- The way the rice is baked together with the chicken means it turns out juicy and moist enough not to need a sauce. But you can insist on wanting some gravy just for things over the top. Below are some instructions to make the gravy in about 4 mins.
- Chicken AND beef stock cubes (aka bouillon cubes) – for flavour and colour. As the base of the gravy, chicken provides the basic flavour and beef adds oomph and gives it a nice, deep brown colour instead of an unappealing pale brown. You can use this gravy to accompany any protein – white meat (chicken, pork), red meat (beef, lamb), potatoes, and vegetables.
- Hot water – to dissolve the cubes;
- Flour – to thicken the gravy (gluten-free cornflour/cornstarch sub in the recipe notes);
- Onion or garlic powder – optional, for a hint of extra flavour.
- Dissolve stock cubes or powder in boiling water;
- Melt butter in a saucepan and mix in flour;
- Pour in stock water while whisking and cook for 1.5 minutes until thickened. DONE!
This recipe is quicker than most gravies because the water is already hot and the flavour has already been concentrated, so there is no need to cook it down to preserve its flavour.
And there we go, we have it. Let me know if you try this recipe and how it goes for you.