We all know that cooking at home is usually more healthful and less expensive that eating out — that’s why so many resolve to do more of it in the New Year. But many people fail to reform their cooking habits because of one reason: They don’t like the mess.
In a survey by InSinkerator, 40 percent of consumers said they disliked cleaning up after cooking. I have a formula for a skillet meal that reduces the mess.
Why does it work? You cook the meat first, then remove it from the pan. Next, you’ll cook the rice in the same pan. When it’s almost done, you’ll sprinkle a bunch of vegetables on top then put the meat back in. The heat that finishes cooking the rice will also cook the vegetables. In just 30 minutes of cooking (and maybe 5 minutes of prep), you have dinner on the table.
As for mess, start with the prep. Divide all of your waste into categories as you get the food ready to cook: recycling (plastic bags, cans), disposal/composte (vegetable scraps), trash (foam containers for chicken). The trash should have the least which means fewer trips to take the garbage out.
Use the following recipe as a formula. I’ve included variations at the end, but you can add and subtract whatever works for you and whatever you have on hand. It’s a true one-skillet meal that will make both the diners and the cook happy.
CHICKEN AND RICE SKILLET
Makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup rice
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 to 2 cups bite-size vegetable pieces such as broccoli, carrots, green beans or frozen peas or edamame
Heat oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add to skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until chicken is browned on both sides and just cooked through, about 5 minutes a side. Transfer chicken to a cutting board.
Add onion to same skillet. Saute until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in rice then broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Cut chicken into strips. Sprinkle vegetables over rice in skillet. Sprinkle chicken over vegetables. Cover and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes longer or until rice is tender, broth is absorbed and vegetables are crisp-tender.
Stir chicken and vegetables into rice. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary and serve.
- Use pork tenderloin cut into cubes or peeled and deveined shrimp in place of chicken.
- Use a can of drained beans in place of the meat. Start the recipe by cooking the onion then add the beans with the vegetables.
- Use canned diced tomatoes with their liquid. Drain the liquid into a 2-cup measuring cup. Fill to the 2-cup measure with broth. Add the tomatoes with other vegetables.
- Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese when ready to serve.