DIY chicken & rice stew
I am constantly reminded of how humans are a lot like seasons; there are periods in your life when there will be a need to be dormant, as fresh wounds and old habits rest peacefully under a blanket of snow, waiting for just the right moment to sprout new growth again. And despite feeling as though your winter may never end, always trust that spring will come, and so will summer, and you will bloom fully once again–a stronger, more resilient version of yourself, arms reaching towards the sun in jubilation. The darker times, the interludes, the moments of quiet and rest are essential in order for us to blossom.
I am coming out of a personal winter, into an exciting, invigorated spring. And while the winter was darker and colder and more fragile than many others, the silver lining of it all is that I can feel my roots growing stronger, and I am ready to turn my face to the sun once again.
This chicken & rice stew/congee/savory pudding of sorts was the grounding dish that got me through my winter, when getting inspired to cook was really really hard for me (go figure!). It’s as easy or as complicated as you have the energy for: You can make your own chicken/turkey stock, or use store-bought; you can roast a whole chicken or some turkey legs, or buy a rotisserie from the grocery store and call it done. You can throw in whatever leftover vegetable scraps you have in the fridge, or swap the sushi rice for whatever grain you have on hand. You can add crunchy toppings to your heart’s desire, or simply eat it plain, with a big spoon and an extra sprinkling of salt layered on top. It is an infinitely adaptable, DIY bowl of pure comfort that you may come back to over and over again (I know I did).
• 1 tbsp. coconut oil (or ghee or other cooking oil)
• 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
• 2-3 large carrots, thinly sliced or finely chopped
• 3 large celery stalks, thinly sliced or finely chopped
• 3/4 cup sushi rice
• 4 1/2 cups chicken/turkey broth
• 2 cups shredded or coarsely chopped chicken (or turkey)
• 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
• 3 tbsp. nutritional yeast
• 1 cup broccoli
• kosher salt and pepper, to taste
• vegetable chips (see NOTE)
• fresh herbs (I love cilantro)
• nuts and seeds
• sliced avocado
• a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp. coconut oil over medium high heat until liquified and shimmery. Add onions to the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally until they start to soften (3-5 minutes). Add carrots and celery, along with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and cook the veggies (stirring every so often as you go) until they are all softened and beginning to brown. Stir in the sushi rice, then add the broth.
Bring the broth to a gentle boil (increasing the temperature slightly as needed), then stir and reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and allow all the goodness inside to simmer gently for about 5-7 minutes.
Remove the lid, and add the chicken (or turkey), along with the coconut milk, nutritional yeast, an additional 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Continue to cook over low heat, uncovered, until rice is al denté but not fully soft (7-10 minutes more). Add your broccoli to the pot, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is cooked through, and the mixture has thickened to the consistency of a porridge-ey stew, about 10-20 minutes more. Add more broth as needed if mixture gets too thick, or you want more of a soup consistency. Add more salt and pepper to taste, as needed.
Spoon the hot porridge-ey stew into bowls, and sprinkle with toppings to your heart’s content. I love the combo of homemade carrot chips, sunflower seeds, and fresh cilantro seen in the photo. A squeeze of lemon or lime on top would also be delightful.
NOTE: To make homemade veggie chips, VERY thinly slice carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, etc, and coat lightly with a neutral cooking oil and a sprinkling of salt. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet so none of the slices are touching, and bake in a 425° F oven until they are lightly browned and crispy, flipping them over or stirring them around every so often to ensure even crispiness.