Black Beans and Rice Chili

Everyone loves a bowl of hot chili on a cold day. And add a little bit of rice to the mix and you have a meal that hardly needs any accompaniment.

Here’s a recipe from Zatarain’s for Black Beans and Rice Chili, a one-skillet meal complete with corn and red bell pepper for color and texture that could become a Super Bowl party standby for years to come.

Black Beans and Rice Chili
2 tablespoons oil, divided
1 pound ground beef
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced red bell pepper
1 package Zatarain’s Black Beans and Rice
2 cups water
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Assorted toppings, such as shredded cheese, sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add ground beef, onion and bell pepper; cook and stir until meat is no longer pink. Drain fat.
Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil, rice mix, water, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, garlic powder and crushed red pepper.
Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 25 minute or until most of the water is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent rice and beans from sticking. Serve with assorted toppings, if desired.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per: 321 calories, 734 milligrams 2odium, 13 grams fat, 32 grams carbohydrates, 45 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams fiber 19 grams protein.

Chicken with Rice and Peas

It’s always fun to try a new recipe, no matter if it’s quick and easy or labor-intensive. Perhaps the most interesting part of the experience is wondering if the dish will taste good. My biggest fear is that my family or guests won’t like it.

There are some recipes, though, that take away all the guesswork. Those are the ones that can’t possibly turn out badly. They contain ingredients that just about everyone likes. When I see a recipe like this, it’s immediately put on the proverbial front burner. My favorites are those one-skillet meals.

The following recipe fits all those prerequisites. It’s quick, tasty and is prepared in one pan.

I tweaked the recipe a bit because of the ingredients we had on hand. Instead of chicken, I used pheasant and Hungarian partridge breasts, as well as 2 cups of leftover brown/wild rice (for the long-grain variety). With no white wine or vermouth and chicken broth, I substituted red wine and wild game broth. And yellow onions had to suffice.

The results were spectacular. I can’t imagine the dish being any tastier with the called-for ingredients.

Chicken with Rice and Peas
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
Pinch red pepper flakes
1½ cups long-grain rice
½ cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
4½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
5 scallions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in flour to coat and shake off any excess. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the chicken well on one side, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Turn off the heat, add the butter to the skillet, and swirl to melt. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and return to medium-high heat until softened, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the rice thoroughly and let toast for about 30 seconds.
Stir in the wine (or vermouth) and let the rice absorb it completely, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle the chicken into the rice, browned side facing up, including any accumulated juices. Cover and cook over medium heat until the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a clean plate. Gently brush off and discard any rice clinging to the chicken, then tent the chicken with foil and set aside. Return the skillet of rice to medium-low heat, cover, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 8 to 12 minutes longer.
Turn off the heat, sprinkle the peas over the rice, cover, and let warm through, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and lemon juice to the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the chicken and lemon wedges.

Sunday Red Rice

Rice has been a popular food staple for a long time and is found in a number of cultures. One of the reasons probably is because it’s so versatile. Rice goes well with both meat and vegetables and is a key ingredient in a number of soups, stews, breakfast cereals and even desserts.

My favorite way to have rice is in dishes that also contain beans, although Spanish rice, which contains mushrooms, peppers and tomato sauce, rates right up there, too.

Here’s a rice recipe from the Gullah and Geechee culture on the Sea Islands of Georgia, which has retained ethnic traditions from West Africa since the mid-1700s.

Sunday Red Rice
4 thick slices bacon
2 thick slices boneless ham (about ¾ pound), chopped
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
¼ cup chopped celery
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 2/3 cups water
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 cups raw converted white rice (Uncle Ben’s preferred)
Ground black pepper
Fry bacon in a heavy-bottom pot to render the fat. Remove bacon and reserve for another use.
Saute ham, onion, green pepper and celery in the bacon fat until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add tomato sauce, water, basil, bay leaf and sugar. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add rice, cover, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender.
Remove the bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 305 calories, 12 grams fat (4grams saturated); 35 milligrams cholesterol, 14 grams protein, 35 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams sugar, 2 grams fiber, 1,150 milligrams sodium, 50 milligrams calcium.