Grandma’s Chicken with Rice and Beans

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Last week, I shared my list of essential pantry items every home cook should keep on hand. It was a list inspired by my grandmother who knew exactly what was needed to produce exceptional meals for weeks before her next big grocery shopping trip. Without realizing it, the inventory of items filling her kitchen cupboards stuck with me, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, it was my grandmother who inspired me to cook the way I do today.

I remember standing behind my granny with a one-subject notebook on Christmas morning 11 years ago. I felt special because she NEVER showed anyone how she prepared her food. Eager to learn her secrets, I jotted down everything I could, from her culinary techniques to the combinations of dried spices and fresh herbs she used to create the mind-blowing flavorful dishes my family and I covet. She uses this approach with every meal she makes, and that includes the one I share with you today.

My Grandma’s Chicken with Rice and Beans is a meal my granny made for me and my family many times. As simple of a dish as it sounds, the flavors were always some I could never forget about. It took me years to get the combination of spices just right, and it is a feat of which I can’t be anymore proud.

I have a lot to thank my grandmother for — from giving birth to my mama who ultimately gave birth to me, to showing me what it means to put forth love and generosity through the gift of cooking someone a meal. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for her. So thank you, grandma. And after you make this meal, you’ll be wanting to thank her too.

Grandma’s Chicken with Rice and Beans

(recipe serving size – 4 people)

For the beans:

2 cans red kidney beans

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Empty all of the contents in both cans into a small pot and stir in the spices (do not drain the beans). Bring the beans to a boil and reduce to a simmer over medium-low to low heat for 15-20 minutes, until the beans are tender.

For the rice:

2 cups long grain white rice

3 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 tb olive oil

1 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Bring water, olive oil and spices to a boil over high heat. Add the rice and drop the heat down to low. Simmer with the lid on for 15-20 mins, until the rice is tender and the liquid has all evaporated.

For the chicken:

1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 4 cutlets (roughly 1/2 inch in thickness)

1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced

8 oz mozzarella cheese

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cracked black pepper

1 cup flour

1 cup olive oil

Turn the broiler on in your oven.

Season the chicken breast with the spices and set aside. Heat 1/4-1/3 inch of oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat for a shallow fry. Once the oil is hot, dredge the chicken lightly in the flour, shake off any excess and place the chicken in the oil.

Fry the cutlets for 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked all the way through.

Drain the cutlets for a moment on a plate lined with paper towel and place the chicken on a baking sheet. Top each piece with the cheese and slices of bell pepper. Set the baking sheet on a rack in your oven 4-6 inches from the top and broil until the cheese is melted and the peppers have partially cooked.

Bringing it all together:

Fresh parsley for garnish, chopped

To serve family style, place the pieces of chicken on a serving platter. Transfer the rice and beans into separate serving bowls. Garnish the chicken, rice and beans with the chopped parsley and serve while warm.

Creative liberties: The Vegetarian and Vegan Remixes

While this dish contains chicken and chicken stock, there are variations to this meal that will please both vegetarians and vegans.

  • Replace the chicken stock in the rice with vegetable stock or broth. And if you don’t have any of either, use water. You will need to adjust the salt. Use 3/4 tsp of kosher salt if using vegetable stock or broth. Use 1 tsp of kosher salt if you use water.
  • If you like mushrooms, substitute the chicken for a hearty portobello. Mix the spices used on the chicken with 2 tb of olive oil. Brush each cap with the seasoned oil and pan sear or grill the mushrooms for 3-5 minutes on each side over medium to medium-high heat or until browned. Continue with the cheese and peppers or ditch the cheese if you are vegan. Either way, it will taste great!

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