JEFF TIEDEMAN: Perfect pairingMost of us, me included, take for granted traditional food pairing such as bacon and eggs, cucumber and dill, garlic and basil, asparagus and mushrooms, etc. Chicken and rice is a combination that’s hard to beat.
Most of us, me included, take for granted traditional food pairing such as bacon and eggs, cucumber and dill, garlic and basil, asparagus and mushrooms, etc.
Do you ever wonder why these are so popular?
One thought over the past decade or so that has caught the attention of some chefs and food scientists is that ingredients sharing flavor compounds are more likely to go well together than those that do not.
If this seems a little esoteric, I agree. If two foods taste good together in combination, most people really don’t care about the science behind it, me included.
One such combo that I’ve never given much thought to that fits the above criteria is chicken and rice. And since I happen to really like both, a recipe that features the pair oftentimes ends up on our dining room table.
(Chicken and other birds are a nice alternative to red meat. And rice, especially brown and wild, is low-calorie, low-fat and fiber-rich in carbohydrates.)
Sometimes, as was the case last week, I’ll go in search of a chicken and rice recipe. This time, I just happened to have some wild/brown rice left over from a delicious meal that our granddaughter, Naomi, had prepared for us while she was visiting from Cincinnati.
I was pretty sure the rice would go well with some game birds — pheasant and Hungarian partridge — that were residing in one of our freezers and needed to be cooked.
After a cookbook and Internet search, I found a recipe — a one-skillet meal (my favorite kind) — that worked well. (See recipe at http://chefjeff.areavoices.com /2012/ 03/ 28/ chicken-with-rice-and-peas.)
And since the ingredients were ones that couldn’t possibly take the recipe south, my biggest fear was assuaged. Usually, when trying a new recipe, I always wonder if the dish will taste good and if my family or guests will like it.
A chicken and rice bonanza
Over the weekend, I discovered four more chicken and rice recipes that were pretty tasty, all of which would be welcome in our house.
As one of three semifinal judges at UND’s Iron Chef 2012 on Saturday night — sponsored by UND Dining Services, UND Memorial Union, and UND Nightlife — I was able to sample Jambalaya Rice Stuffed Chicken Breast, Almond Crusted Chicken with Sauteed Vegetable Yellow Rice, Poached Chicken Roulade with Parmesan Bacon Rice and Jerk Chicken with Cilantro Rice Pilaf.
Each dish was prepared by a team of four students who were mentored by UND Dining Service chefs.
The student chefs had two hours to prepare and cook their meals, which had to feature chicken breasts and a Zatarain rice component. (Two of those teams, along with a pair from Friday night, advanced to the 9 p.m. April 14 finals at the Loading Dock in UND’s Memorial Union. The public is welcome to attend.)
Since most of us are eating less than a serving of whole grains a day (we should be aiming for at least three 1-ounce servings), a meal of chicken and rice (preferably wild or brown or a combination of the two) at least once a week would be a good start to accomplishing that goal.
That’s a traditional pairing worth starting.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.