Yes, it’s chicken ham rice — NOT chicken and ham rice. And there is a story behind it. Alton Brown’s corned beef recipe has intrigued me for a long time. I finally decided to try it. But I made too much brine for the two slabs of beef that I had. Instead of throwing away the very flavorful liquid, I decided to use it to cook a whole chicken. The result? Chicken that tastes like ham.
But that’s not all. I used the reduced liquid in which the chicken had cooked, added vegetables and day-old rice. I cooked them all together until the rice was heated through. Voila! Chicken ham rice. Marvelous.
Why do the chicken meat and rice have a pinkish tinge? Ahhhh… that’s prague powder, a.k.a. curing salt. It’s not essential for flavoring the food although adding some will definitely yield a more pleasant color for both meat and rice.
The amount of ingredients in the following recipe has been reduced to be just enough for a chicken and rice for three to four people.
- 1/4 cup rock salt
- 1/4 teaspoon prague powder
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 4 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil
- 1 whole chicken butterflied
- 1/4 cup chopped carrot
- 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 cup corn kernels
- 3 to 4 cups cooked rice
Place the salt, sugar, bay leaves, peppercorns, mustard seeds, ginger, garlic, cloves and cinnamon stick in a sauce pan. Pour in about 2 cups of water. Bring to the boil and cook until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
Heat the cooking oil in wok or frying pan (should be wide enough to allow easy flipping of the chicken AND deep enough to contain the liquid).
Add the butterflied chicken in the hot oil, skin side down and cook until the skin is lightly browned. Flip and brown the other side.
Flip the chicken once more. Pour in the liquid that you had boiled earlier. If you’re wondering about the last flipping, you want the meatiest portions to be in direct contact with the liquid longer. Bring the liquid to the boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and cook the chicken slowly over the lowest possible heat for 30 minutes. Flip the chicken, cook for another 10 minutes. Flip the chicken again and turn off the heat. Leave the chicken in the liquid for 30 minutes.
Scoop out the chicken and leave loosely covered on a plate to cool some more.
Strain the liquid. You should be able to see the fat floating on top. Take two tablespoonfuls of the fat and pour back into the pan where the chicken cooked. If you’re anti-animal fat, use vegetable oil.
Heat the fat in the pan. Add the chopped carrot, bell pepper, celery and corn kernels. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the rice to the vegetables. Season with the strained liquid, minus the fat. Add a tablespoonful at a time, adding more as needed. Do not be tempted to add all the strained liquid all at once or your rice might turn out too salty.
To assemble the dish, place some rice on a plate. Top with sliced chicken. For a brighter looking meal, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and chopped parsley.