A few weeks ago, my friend underwent a kidney transplant. Her mother-in-law took care of their kids for a few weeks while her husband stayed with her near the hospital. A friend sent out an email organizing meals for the family (via Take Them a Meal) and it got me thinking about my favorite meal I bring to friends in need.
I found this dish years ago in The Quick Recipe (a fantastic cookbook) and I’ve been making it ever since. Usually a family needing meals is overwhelmed with lasagna and Italian food, so I like to bring something different. I got my oldest daughter involved in the preparation and we had a wonderful time talking and laughing and cooking – and serving others. I’m hopeful we can teach our children the importance of looking beyond ourselves and putting other people’s needs first. It’s not an easy task and one with which I constantly struggle, but it’s a goal. Not just for me, but for the entire family. In fact, whenever my kids are arguing, I ask them, “Are you putting your sister’s needs and desires above your own?” The answer is always “no,” but the argument usually ends and hugs get passed around.
Making a meal for someone takes a little time, and usually means you make two dinners in one day, but it’s always worth it to see the grateful look in the recipients’ eyes when dinner arrives. You can make Lemon Chicken with Rice with one pot and one baking dish so it cuts down on the mess and amount of work. I serve it with a mixed green salad – just cut open the top of the bag of greens and pour in lots of freshly chopped vegetables then close the bag up with a clip. The dressing is a simple squeeze of lemon, a few tablespoons of olive oil, some sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Dessert is chocolate creams – a creamy and rich dessert prepared in the blender.
My friend returns home today and continues to recover from her surgery. Hopefully, we’ll have the opportunity to help with some more whole, unprocessed food, prepared with love.
Chicken and Rice with Lemon, Peas and Scallions
If you are taking this dish to some one’s home, put the scallions and lemon wedges in a small bowl to serve on the side. Pour the rice into a large baking dish and top with the chicken.
Serves 4. Adapted from The Quick Recipe.
4 split chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
5 scallions (green onions), sliced thin
1 lemon cut into wedges
Preheat oven to 350ºF and adjust rack to middle position. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add coconut oil and then place chicken in pan, skin-side down. Cook chicken until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a casserole dish, skin-side up, and bake until it reaches 160ºF on a meat thermometer, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the onion to the pot and cook until translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until the rice begins to turn a milky white. Stir in the garlic and zest and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the stock, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to low, cover, and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 45-90 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Sprinkle the peas over the rice and drape a clean towel over the pot and put the lid on. (The towel absorbs the moisture so the rice remains fluffy.) Allow the rice to stand for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When ready to serve, fold in the scallions. Serve rice with chicken and lemon wedges.
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