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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chinese Chicken Rice Casserole

Jim bought me the best Christmas present this year...a big, beautiful Le Creuset French oven.  I use it once a week because it is good for absolutely everything, including roasting a chicken (a recipe I must share in the near future).  So I search for one pot meals every chance I get lately.  I found a bunch of Dutch/French oven recipes on theKitchn web site and I decided to test this one out tonight.  I think I found my new favorite one pot meal.  In addition to all the usual wonderful ingredients like chicken, rice, scallions, garlic, and ginger, this recipe had me at hello with the addition of smoked Chinese sausage.  There's a Vietnamese restaurant nearby that puts this Chinese sausage in their fried rice and it's amazing.  It's the most flavorful sausage I've ever tasted.  So it's inclusion in this dish made me happy and beyond willing to run all the way to a huge Asian superstore that is 30 minutes from our house...HMart!

HMart is a mecca of all that is wonderful about Eastern cuisine.  They have a huge produce selection filled with 3 different varieties of bok choy alone - not to mention every other green known to man.  There are mushrooms galore and some fruits and vegetables that I never knew existed.  (Yesterday I saw a fruit there that looked like a blowfish as big as my torso.)  They have more types of kimchee than you could imagine.  The meat department has an entire aisle dedicated to every type of  thinly sliced cut of meat possible...shabu shabu, anyone?  They even have an aisle for rice cookers - we happened to buy ours there.  When Jim and I make a trek to HMart, we spend a couple of hours.  We have lunch at the food court (some of the best stone pot bim bim bap I ever thought possible...I dream about it at night sometimes.)  Then we browse, shop, and did I mention they do samples???  We taste test everything they're dishing out, from scallion pancakes to dumplings to noodle soups.  It's always a good time.  Except for the fact that it's a madhouse on the weekends and therefore a parking nightmare.  They actually have two cops on duty trying to manage the "situation."

Still totally worth it.  This dish was so flavorful.  There is a small amount of sausage in the dish, so it's pretty healthy overall.  I healthified it a little more by using brown rice instead of white and low sodium everything - I also cut out the extra salt that was called for.  The result could not have been more perfect.  I will certainly be making this again - especially now that I have smoked Chinese sausage links in my freezer just waiting to be used.

Chinese Chicken Rice Casserole
adapted from theKitchn
serves 6

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp cornstarch
2 boneless chicken breasts, about 1 pound, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 scallions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
2 oz smoked Chinese sausage, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
10 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, caps thinly sliced
1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 cups brown rice
4 cups low sodium chicken broth

Heat the oven to 350°F. Whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Stir in the chicken, scallions, garlic and ginger, and toss so that they are coated with the liquid.  Let the chicken marinate for at least 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, place an oven-safe pan (at least 3 quarts), over medium high heat on the stove. When it is hot, add the sausage and turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the sausage slowly release its fat. When the bottom of the pot is slick with the sausage fat, add the mushrooms. Turn the heat back up to medium high heat and let the mushrooms cook, without stirring them, for 5 minutes. Flip them over and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pot, and sauté the rice for about 1 minute to develop some toasty flavor.  Then add the chicken mixture and the stock and bring to a boil.

Turn off the heat, cover with a lid or with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  I had a lot of liquid left in the dish after this step, so I put it back in the oven uncovered for another 15 minutes.  After that, it was perfection.  Let stand 5 minutes, covered, before serving. Stir up the rice before serving, as the chicken and mushrooms will have risen to the top during baking.  Stir thoroughly so that they are incorporated throughout the rice.

 I had no luck finding shitake mushrooms this weekend, so I used regular white mushrooms and it was fine.  (Shitakes would have been better.)

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