WINE WITH…Chicken Pilaf
A timeless recipe, this pilaf is simple to prepare, and is even better if
made the day before. Spice it up to suit your taste, adding a little more cayenne or a dash of red pepper flakes, and perhaps some torn basil leaves just before serving. It’s great for entertaining, and we like to accompany it with a big green salad and a couple of different bottles of wine on the table--one white, one red.
4-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 fresh red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into narrow strips
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or more)
1 pinch (or 1/4 teaspoon) saffron
1 cup long-grain rice such as basmati
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup peeled, chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
4 or 5 fresh basil leaves (optional)
Blot the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel, then season them with salt and pepper. Place the olive oil in a large, sturdy skillet or braiser and heat it until it begins to shimmer. Then add the chicken thighs and cook, over medium heat, until they begin to color lightly. Remove them to a plate and add the onion and pepper to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until they have softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the oregano, cayenne and saffron. Stir in the rice and add the wine.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is reduced by about half. Pour in the chicken stock, add the tomatoes, and then stir the chicken thighs back into the mixture. Cover the pot and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes. Give everything a good stir, adding some water if the ingredients seem to be drying out, then cover the pot and simmer for another 15 minutes or until the rice is tender. If using the basil leaves tear them into pieces and sprinkle over the top if the dish.
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As suggested above, this dish pairs nicely with wines of every color. So long as you don’t choose something too delicate or too astringent, you’ll be fine and your guests will be happy. The pilaf’s flavors aren’t particularly forceful, so even though it’s a fairly simple dish, it can serve as a good partner for nuanced, sophisticated wines. We tried eleven current releases, but we also know from past experience that wines showing some age can make for delicious matches.
Questions or comments? Contact us at Talkofthevine@gmail.com