About 9:00 Saturday morning, I bundled up like I was heading to the Arctic, chugged my last cup of coffee and headed down to South School Avenue, where the Winter Farmers’ Market was in full swing. I picked up my ordered items (ooh, fennel fronds!) and chatted with some of the vendors, including Kim Kapity of Sycamore Valley Farms, who has some enlightening tips and advice on duck eggs. My order also included a whole cut up chicken from the Wynn Family. The Wynns are offering pasture-raised, hand-cut birds that contain no growth hormones or antibiotics, and Candye is even divulging her “energizing, life-giving, heal-any-grievance” stock recipe to anyone who buys one. Love it! With all my goodies in one bag, I headed home and began brainstorming.
To allow myself some extra downtime on Saturday (read: cooking shows, yoga, tabloids and a good red zin), I first decided to make Saturday’s dinner a simple one-pot meal. One-pot meals have their own virtual subculture in the culinary world; there are entire books, TV shows and websites dedicated to the art of cooking your entire meal in one pot. The idea strikes me as neither new nor revolutionary, but the technique is definitely an effortless, hands-free one. There are only two elements required for a one pot meal: a Dutch oven and a heat source. How much easier can you get?
A few weeks prior, I’d picked up a bag of wild rice blend at the supermarket (which, for those who give a hoot, isn’t rice at all, but rather grass). It was an impulse buy, and it had been sitting in my cupboard ever since, waiting patiently to be used. I gathered up a few basic stock ingredients, like carrots, celery and onion and got to work. I seared the chicken in the Dutch oven with a little salt and pepper, then added the vegetables to the pot to sauté them a bit before allowing them to simmer with the rice – you add more flavor by sautéing them – you certainly don’t want to end up with boring boiled vegetables and rice!
After a quick deglazing with beer, I put the chicken back in the pot, added the rice and the stock, a few seasonings, and left the thing alone for the next hour and a half. As the time passed, the house began to fill with a wonderful, comforting, mouth-watering smell. Needless to say, dinner was delicious, and I barely had to lift a finger!
For those who are interested, please visit Fayetteville’s Winter Farmers’ Market, located on South School Street in the old bus depot. They’re open from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Candye Wynn of Wynn’s Tomato Ranch even sends out a weekly email with the offerings for the coming Saturday, and customers are allowed to pre-order and pick up their goods Saturday morning. To subscribe to the list, you can email Candye at wynnstomatoranch(at)pgtc(dot)com. Enjoy!
One-Pot Chicken and Rice
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium chicken, cut up, skin on (save the wings for another use)
3 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled, whole and cracked
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 c. beer
1 c. wild rice, brown rice or a blend
1 3/4 c. water
1 bay leaf
5 springs of thyme
salt & pepper to taste
In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Coat the chicken liberally with salt and pepper and brown on each side, about 7 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the celery, onion and garlic to the pan, and deglaze with the beer, scraping the bottom to loosen any brown bits. Once the liquid had evaporated (about 5 minutes), reduce it to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid. Add the carrots, potatoes, chicken, rice, water, bay and thyme to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about an hour and a half. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
*Please note: if you’re using only brown rice, reduce the cooking time to one hour.
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Laura Hobbs is a guest contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, visit her author page.