October 19, 2011

Saffron Chicken and Rice

Every home should have a little pinch of magic in its spice drawer. Saffron is the most luxurious and robust spice you can acquire. It distributes a beautiful aroma and rich golden-yellow hue to any dish it touches. Who doesn’t love perfumed, creamy rice and fork tender chicken? This recipe has a few steps in order to assure its excellence; however, it is well worth the wait. 

Saffron Chicken and Rice takes some major pointers from the Latin American dish called “Arroz Con Pollo” which is garnished with peas and green olives. My garnish of black olives and green onions provides the color contrast and salty bite required without distracting your taste buds from the beautiful flavor of saffron.  

Saffron Chicken and Rice


For Chicken: 

5 chicken breasts, boned and skinned
4 large garlic cloves, grated
Juice and zest of one lemon
Juice of one orange
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
¾ tsp. fresh cracked black pepper

For Rice: 

2 cups long-grain brown rice
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of white onions, chopped
10 mini sweet bell peppers, sliced
¼ tsp. saffron threads
4 cups chicken stock, home prepared
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 can diced tomatoes, including juice
1 can black olives, pitted halved
5 tbsp. green onions, sliced


Mix garlic, lemon juice, orange juice, salt, red and black pepper and pour over chicken breasts to marinade for one hour, turning occasionally. Take chicken out of marinade being sure to pat dry with paper towels. Reserve marinade. 

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350°F. 

Heat oil in a heavy 6 quart pot (with an oven safe lid) over moderately high heat. Brown chicken in batches, without crowding the pan. Transfer browned chicken to a plate, reserving oil and brown bits in pot.
Sauté onions, bell peppers, and garlic in pot over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally and scraping up brown bits from chicken, until vegetables are softened, 6 to 8 minutes. 

While vegetables cook, heat saffron in a dry small skillet over low heat, shaking skillet, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add a tiny bit of water and bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. 

Add cumin, tomato paste and salt to vegetables and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in saffron mixture, bay leaf, tomatoes (including juice), broth, and reserved marinade and bring to a boil. Stir in rice, then add breast pieces, and arrange chicken in 1 layer. Return to a simmer. 

Cover pot tightly, then transfer to oven and bake until rice is tender and most of liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow chicken and rice to sit, covered, for 20 minutes. 

Scatter olives and green onions over rice and chicken to serve. Discard bay leaf.


  1. I totally agree with you on the saffron. It second only to truffles for me. :)

    Great winter comfort food recipe!

  2. Just beautiful! Delicious, too, I'm certain!

  3. This sounds wonderful... I love saffron especially in rice. I have some in my cabinet always and it is totally worth the cost. :)

  4. Wow - this looks absolutely amazing! I don't use saffron a lot, but it's amazing in rice!

  5. What a perfectly beautiful rice and chicken dish. I always use turmeric for the color... I may have to splurge and try saffron someday. :)

  6. What a lovely dish! the color and spices just make it perfect!

  7. Looks beautiful. There is nothing to equal saffron's color or flavor.

  8. Hot stuff! I swear I can phantom smell it and it smells amazing! Buzzed!

  9. This looks awesome! That photo is making my mouth water.

  10. I bet the spices are INCREDIBLE. Yummmmm so savory!

  11. Im addicted to saffron and yet dot use it nearly enough. This dish looks amazing and I would have a serving far to big - and love every bite!


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