Bringing flavor, pizazz and panache to cooking

Larry had bought a whole chicken and I was trying to decide what to do with it yesterday when I thought up this recipe. Most Polynesian or Hawaiian Chicken casseroles have pineapple slices, but I didn’t have any on hand. However, I did have Pineapple Preserves, Apricot Preserves and Apple Jelly. So I came up with a sauce using those. We also had a package of Mahatma Spicy Saffron Yellow Rice which I used, but it would be equally good with White Rice. After fixing it last night for supper, I doubled the rice in this recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

3 2/3 cups Water

2 5 oz package Mahatma Spicy Saffron Yellow Rice

2 Tbsp Butter

OR

4 cups Water

2 cups White Rice

2 Tbsp Butter

If using the Mahatma Spicy Saffron Yellow Rice:

In a medium saucepan, bring the 2 1/3 cups water to a boil, add the butter and the packages of rice and seasonings, stirring. Cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff lightly with a fork when the rice has finished cooking

If using White Rice:

In a medium saucepan, bring the 4 cups of water to a boil and add the rice and butter and stir once. Cover the pot and return the water to a boil. Immediately turn the stove down to simmer and turn the timer on. The rule is simple: you can tell the rice is done if all the water is absorbed (assuming you have put in the correct proportions of rice and water.)

White rice usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes to cook. Check the rice about 4 minutes before the timer is due to go off. When you take the cover off, the top of the rice may look like it is totally cooked. However, with a spoon, you need to gently move the rice to see if there is still water to be absorbed at the bottom. Once the rice is cooked, fluff lightly with a fork.

Chicken, Vegetables and Sauce:

1 3-4 lb Chicken

Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

2 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 Bell Pepper, cut into 1/2 inch strips

1 large Onion, chopped

1 Garlic clove, pressed

½ cup Carrots, diced or julienned

¼ cup Coconut, shredded

½ cup Pineapple Preserves

½ cup Apricot Preserves

½ cup Apple Jelly

2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 tsp Lower-Sodium Soy Sauce

2 Tbsp Ginger root, grated

2 tsp Cornstarch

¼ cup Water

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9”x13” pan with canola oil spray.

While the rice is cooking, cut the chicken into pieces – cut each breast in half – and remove the skin. (We don’t use the wings because they don’t have much meat on them – see the NOTE at the bottom.) Salt and pepper the chicken pieces. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, brown the chicken on all sides and then remove the chicken to a large bowl.

Sauté the bell pepper, onion, garlic and carrots for about 5 minutes – they’ll finish cooking when the casserole bakes. Remove the cooked veggies to the bowl with the chicken. Add the coconut to the bowl.

Turn down the heat under the skillet to low and let it cool off for a minute or two. Add the pineapple and apricot preserves, apple jelly, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and ginger and cook for a few minutes until the preserves and jelly have melted.

In a small bowl or cup, mix the cornstarch and water. The slowly add the mixture to the hot preserves. Turn up the heat to high, let the sauce boil while stirring. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Pour the chicken and sautéed vegetables back into the skillet and mix thoroughly in the sauce.

Spread the cooked rice in the bottom of the 9”x13” pan. Using tongs, place the chicken pieces on top of the rice, then spoon the vegetables and sauce over the chicken.

Cover the rice, chicken and vegetable casserole with aluminum foil and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the largest piece of chicken reads 185 degrees.

Note: We use the backbone, wings and skin to make a rich chicken broth with water, onions, celery and carrots. After it has boiled for an hour or so, remove the wings, skin, backbone and veggies. Let it cool and skim the fat off, then put it in baggies and freeze it for future use.

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