Chat Leftovers: Converted Rice, Boneless Chix Woes
Rice rice baby: I have a burning question. What is converted rice? Did it change religion, or was something done to affect nutrition or cooking time? Should I prepare it differently than I would, say, Jasmine rice?
Let’s start with some basics. Brown and white rice begin similarly, with the removal of its outer (and inedible) husk, aka hull. At this stage, the rice is considered “brown,” with its bran and germ intact (as well as fiber and nutrients). When rice goes through the additional steps of having its bran and germ removed, it becomes “white.”
Converted rice (as in Uncle Ben’s) is white rice that’s been parboiled (or steamed) and then dried before milling, resulting in a beige-ier shade, a less sticky texture and purportedly more nutrients. It does take a little bit more time to cook than regular white rice, but check that orange Uncle Ben’s box for further details. Don’t confuse this with instant rice, which is pre-cooked then dehydrated. I find converted rice kind of boring compared to fragrant varieties such as Jasmine, Basmati or Wehani, but hey, it’ll do the job when you need it done.
Rockville, Md.: I have two boneless chicken breasts and if I have to cook chicken parm one more time I'm going to scream. However, my hubby likes a zesty meal so baked chicken isn't really an option (unless it's got a bite or zing to it which I don't know how to do) and it's too cold to grill. Any ideas on how to liven up my chicken so it has lots of zesty flavor?
Do what I did last night with a handful of boneless thighs that were staring me in the face: Make an ad hoc pollo y frijoles kind of stew thing. I like to get started with my black beans first, particularly if I’m using soaked, dried beans, but canned beans will do in a pinch.
For dried, add enough water to cover beans, plus another inch of water, and bring up to a boil for at least two minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook beans at a simmer. Cook by themselves for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare chicken: Season with salt and pepper. Measure out 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon salt and at least ½ teaspoon cayenne or your favorite paprika.
Chop an onion and a few minced cloves of garlic.
Heat your favorite skillet and add 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. Add chicken and brown on each side. Remove from pan. Add onions and garlic, and cook over medium heat until softened, then add spice mixture. With a wooden spoon, stir until a paste is formed. Return chicken to pan and coat with spices and aromatics.
Pour entire contents of pan into pot of beans. Increase heat and allow mixture to come up to a simmer, then cover and cook until beans are tender. Everything should be done in about 90 minutes, and you don’t need to fret by the stove. Serve with rice and/or spinach.
Plan B, with canned beans: Brown the chicken first. To season beans, add a few minced cloves of garlic and one tablespoon of olive oil. Cook over medium heat until slightly softened, then add beans (I’d use 2 cans), 1 teaspoon of dried oregano (if you don’t have, don’t worry.) and ½ chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped. Bring up to a simmer. Add browned chicken and allow everything to talk to each other until chicken is cooked through.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that as of Sunday night (Jan. 25), the number of infected persons stands at 501 (up from 488 on Friday), with 8 related deaths. Food safety attorney Bill Marler, whom I interviewed last week, is updating the situation on a nearly hourly basis in his Marler Blog.
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