Did your dad cook chicken in an oven bag, too?
There’s something truly magical that happens in an oven bag – ok, sure it’s mostly steam but I’m here to tell you that steam is pretty high up there on the magic in the kitchen scale.
My dad made this Hawaiian Chicken (so named because it came from one of his 1970’s cookbooks and the recipe contains pineapple) every month as we were growing up. It’s a toss-in-a-bag type dinner which I think is an early version of a one-pot or sheet-pan dinner. Get it done, dinner. It never goes out of style, obviously.
I’ve updated the recipe to a pot, instead of the bag, We’ll use fresh pineapple instead of canned. We’ll keep the water chestnuts for crunch. We’ll add the pea pods fresh instead of frozen. And the French dressing marinade? We’ll keep that because some things from the 70’s need our respect, salad dressing marinades being one of them.
Here’s dinner – let’s!
Here’s what you’ll need for dinner:
• boneless skinless chicken thighs, honestly the hero a lot of my quick and comforting dinners.
• French dressing – the presence of which implies that this recipe comes to us directly from the 1970’s. Can you use something other that jarred French dressing? Sure, but why not time travel and enjoy the simple pleasure of a salad dressing marinated chicken?
• onions and garlic for base flavor
• pineapple, pea pods, and sliced water chestfuls for sweetness and texture
• soy sauce and lemon to flavor the chicken broth
• long grain rice to round out dinner.
I find it easiest to gather all of my ingredients before I set out for dinner.
You don’t need a million tiny bowls – a few good piles on the cutting board will do equally well.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Big pinches are the way to go, always.
Add the French dressing and hey, stir it up / let it be/ refrigerate and allow to tenderize.
Chop the onion and mince the garlic.
It’s a generous act that burns the eyes and stinks the fingers but it’s all in the name of dinner so we do it.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to shake some of the chill off by resting on the counter for 25 minutes or so.
In a hefty medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Place each piece of chicken, letting the dressing drip off a bit into the hot pan. Brown the chicken on both sides until lightly caramelized. Remove the chicken from the pan (it won’t be cooked through and that’s ok!) and set aside.
Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook to softened and fragrant.
Add the rice to the onions and garlic.
Stir to coat the rice and incorporate the onions and garlic.
It’ll start to smell amazing – you’re on the right track.
Slice up the water chestfuls. They’ll add the best crunch to this dish – don’t skip it!
The sweetness and bite of fresh pineapple is incredible and can’t be matched so splurge on that fresh pineapple life, slice bite-sized.
Add chicken stock to the pot with rice, onions and garlic.
Let’s keep adding things: the pea pods – in.
Fresh pineapple chunks and sliced water chestnuts – in, too.
The mixture will be soupy and needs to cook down all together.
Return the chicken back to the pot for some quality time and full cooking.
Place the lid on he pan and allow it to simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid and check on the rice. It might need a few more minutes and a splash more broth or water. Return the lid, if that’s the case, and cook for 6 minutes more.
Allow the chicken to rest a few minutes before spooning generously into bowls.
Sprinkle with scallions and fresh pineapple.
It’s dinner! Lightly sweet, pleasingly salty, fresh, warm, comforting.
- 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- ½ cup French Dressing
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 1 cup bite size pieces of fresh pineapple
- 1 cup fresh pea pods
- 1 5-ounce can sliced water chestnuts
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- 1/3 cup chopped scallions
- Place chicken pieces in a medium bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Add dressing and stir to coat all of the chicken pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or up to overnight.
- When you’re ready to cook, remove the chicken from refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or so – just to get the chill off. In a medium heavy-bottom pot (I used a cast iron pot with a sturdy lid) heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces to the pot, shaking off a bit of the French dressing and allowing the chicken to brown, undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes. Flip each piece of chicken and allow to brown on the alternate side for 4 minutes. Remove each chicken piece from the pan and place on a plate.
- Add the onions and garlic to the pan, stir and cook until the onions are softened and cooked through and the mixture is fragrant.
- Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat, about 2 minutes.
- Add the pineapple chunks, pea pods, sliced chestnuts, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
- Stir in the chicken stock over medium heat and return to a simmer. Return the chicken thighs to the pan, including any juices that may have accumulated on the plate.
- Cover and allow to simmer, reducing the heat to low. Allow the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and check the rice. If you find that it's a bit crunchy and has absorbed all of the water, feel free to add 1/4 more stock or water, return the lid and allow the rice to steam for about 6 minutes more.
- Remove the lid, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Spoon into serving bowls and top with a few fresh pineapple chunks and chopped scallions.
- Enjoy! Refrigerate any leftovers.