Simmer deeply browned scrap chicken bones, rice, ginger, pandan leaves and lemongrass to make the best lugaw. Top with whatever you wish!
So, my younger daughter, Alex, just had her braces adjusted. Eating is uncomfortable and she asked for lugaw. Perfect timing because we had two bunches of chicken bones in the fridge to make broth in which to cook the rice.
Broth? Right. Broth. To be tasty and satisfying, lugaw has to be cooked in broth. And that makes the mushy rice more nutritious too because all the nutrients in the chicken bones get transferred to the cooking liquid and end up in the rice.
You can buy scrap bones (chicken neck and feet are especially good, and cheap too) but, in our case, we filleted a bunch of chicken thighs and breasts for two different dishes, and kept the bones for making broth.
Normally, I’d make the broth ahead of time, strain it and cook the rice in it. But I was pressed for time so I did a short cut.
The chicken bones were browned in a little cooking oil, unrinsed rice was added along with a stalk of lemongrass, a pair of pandan leaves and a few slices of ginger.
Water was poured in and everything was simmered for an hour and half. The effect, of course, was to make broth while the rice cooked. To coax out the starch from the rice grains, the lugaw was stirred often especially during the last half hour of cooking to prevent scorching at the bottom of the pan.
When the rice grains were mushy and the lugaw was thick, I just fished out the chicken bones, lemongrass, pandan leaves and ginger slices.
Lugaw (Filipino-style Rice Congee)
- Wipe the chicken bones dry with paper towels.
- Heat the cooking oil in a sauce pan.
- Spread the chicken bones in the hot oil and brown all sides over medium-high heat (see notes after the recipe).
- Add the rice, lemongrass, pandan leaves and ginger slices.
- Pour in four cups of water.
- Simmer the rice and chicken bones, stirring occasionally.
- When the rice is cooked through, taste and add patis.
- If the mixture appears too thick (see notes after the recipe), add more water and continue simmering, stirring more often, until the rice grains burst and turn mushy.
- Fish out the chicken bones, lemongrass, pandan leaves and ginger before serving the lugaw.
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