It’s almost Friday and it’s this part of the week when my cravings for comfort food really start kicking in. It doesn’t help that it’s been dark and rainy non-stop for like, the last three weeks straight! So this week I whipped up this Creamy Chicken and Rice Skillet, which has to be one of the most comfort-food-y comfort foods of all time. Or maybe I should just call it “February food.” Creamy, cheesy, carby deliciousness in one easy skillet. Imagine chicken pot pie filling baked into rice and topped with cheese. If that doesn’t make you forget how dreary it is outside, I don’t know what will.
Can I Make this with Brown Rice?
I don’t suggest using brown rice for this recipe. Not only will it require a lot of other changes to the recipe (the amount of liquid used, the cook time, etc), but I just don’t think the flavor and texture of brown rice would be a good match for this particular recipe. This one is supposed to be creamy, soft, and indulgent. If you’re looking for a healthy chicken and rice recipe, I’d look for one that is designed to be healthy (and I’m sure there are some good ones out there!).
Can I Use Chicken Thighs instead of Breasts?
Yes, absolutely. You should be able to swap out chicken thighs for chicken breasts in this recipe without making any other adjustments. Use approximately 3/4 lb. chicken thighs.
Can I Use Fresh Vegetables?
Sure! I used frozen peas and carrots for this recipe because I intended this recipe to be more of a convenience comfort food, but you can certainly use fresh if you have them available. Fresh vegetables will likely need a little bit more time to cook, since frozen vegetables are blanched before freezing, so I would add your fresh vegetables at the same time that the broth is added, so they can simmer with the rice.
Can I substitute the Heavy Cream?
Yes, you do have some options here. If you want to make it just a little lighter, you can use half and half. If you’re looking for a non-dairy substitute, I would use coconut milk (the kind in the can, not the kind in a carton meant as a dairy milk substitute). Or, you can just leave the cream out and make it a non-creamy chicken and rice dish. The cheese on top will be plenty of richness for some people!
How to Store the Leftover Chicken and Rice Skillet
After cooking your skillet full of comfort, divide the chicken and rice into single portions and refrigerate for 4-5 days. A quick reheat in the microwave and you’re back on the comfort food bandwagon. Unfortunately, I haven’t tested freezing this one, but I suspect it would freeze well, since all of the ingredients used generally freeze well.
Creamy Chicken and Rice Skillet
- 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
- 2 Tbsp butter ($0.26)
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2/3 lb.) ($3.62)
- 1 cup long grain white rice ($0.62)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp dried sage ($0.03)
- 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
- freshly cracked pepper ($0.03)
- 3 cups chicken broth ($0.39)
- 1/2 lb. frozen peas and carrots ($0.67)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream ($0.26)
- 4 oz. cheddar, shredded ($0.85)
- Dice the onion and add it to an oven safe deep skillet (3 qt. capacity) along with the butter. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
- While the onions are cooking, dice the chicken breast into small, 1/2-inch pieces. Add the chicken to the skillet and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes more, or just until the outside of the chicken pieces have turned opaque (the chicken will finish cooking through as it simmers with the rice).
- Add the rice, thyme, sage, salt, some freshly cracked pepper (about ten cranks of a pepper mill), and the chicken broth to the skillet and stir to combine.
- Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come to a boil. Once it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to low and let the skillet simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, replacing the lid each time. Cooking the rice in an excess of broth and stirring occasionally as it cooks will produce a saucy rice mixture.
- After 15 minutes, the rice should be tender and saucy (if not yet tender, let it continue to cook for 5 more minutes). Stir in the frozen vegetables (no need to thaw), replace the lid, and let it sit over medium-low heat for another 5 minutes to heat the vegetables through. Finally, add the heavy cream, stir to combine, taste, and add extra salt if needed (this will depend on the salt content of the broth you used).
- Turn on the oven's broiler, top the skillet with the shredded cheese, and place the skillet in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Serve hot.
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How to Make Chicken and Rice – Step by Step Photos
Dice one yellow onion and add it to a deep skillet (3 qt capacity) with 2 Tbsp butter. Sauté the onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until it’s translucent.
While the onions are cooking, dice one boneless, skinless chicken breast into small 1/2-inch sided pieces. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for just a few minutes more, or until the chicken is cooked and opaque on the outside (it will finish cooking through as it simmers with the rice).
Once the chicken pieces are partially cooked, add 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1/4 tsp dried sage, 1/4 tsp salt, some freshly cracked pepper (about 10 cranks of a pepper mill), and 1 cup long grain white rice (uncooked). Stir to combine.
Also add 3 cups chicken broth to the skillet. Stir to combine again.
Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure to replace the lid each time. Cooking the rice in an excess of liquid and giving it a stir every now and then makes it end up more saucy instead of fluffy rice grains.
After 15 minutes, the rice should be tender and saucy. Add 1/2 lb. frozen peas and carrots and stir them into the rice. Return the lid and let the chicken, rice, and vegetables sit for another 5 minutes or so to heat the vegetables through.
Finally, stir in 1/3 cup heavy cream. Give the chicken and rice a taste, and add salt if needed (this will depend on how much salt your broth contains).
Turn the broiler on in the oven. Top the skillet with 4 oz. shredded cheddar, then place the skillet in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese. (You do not need to move the oven’s rack up closer to the broiler, leave it in the middle.)
I garnished with a little parsley for color, but it’s not needed to flavor this dish.