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Cranberry Chicken and Rice Brightens the Holidays

On one of those occasions when I was looking for new ideas for using up some of our holiday leftovers, I came across a casserole similar to this and have adapted it to suit our tastes. And since I cannot seem to make “just a little” cranberry sauce, this Cranberry Chicken and Rice is an ideal way to use what remains. With the convenience of Riceland’s Rice ’N Easy Long Grain and Wild Rice Mix, it’s a snap to put this dish together.

Our preference is for skinless, bone-in chicken thighs, but you can use chicken breasts if you prefer. The boneless, skinless chicken breasts are recommended, but I do think you lose some of the best flavor by removing the bone. When I use breasts, I cut those in half horizontally but leave the bone in. That’s a good serving size for us but your growing teens may require larger servings.

I’ve included a canned version of whole berry cranberry sauce, but you can easily use your leftovers as well. I prefer the texture the whole berries bring to the dish, especially when combined with the rehydrated dried cranberries.

Cranberry Chicken and Rice

 Ingredients

  • 4- 6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (or 4 - 6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs)
  • 1 2/3 cup water
  • 1 package Riceland Rice ’N Easy Long Grain and Wild Rice Mix (or chicken flavored)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries rehydrated in 1 cup warm water
  • 1 14-ounce can whole berry cranberry sauce (or 2 cups leftover homemade whole berry cranberry sauce)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, optional
  • Minced parsley, as garnish

 

Directions

  1. Rehydrate dried cranberries in warm water at least 30 minutes prior to using; drain completely; set aside
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together hot water, Riceland Rice ’N Easy Long Grain and Wild Rice Mix. Pour rice mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle in 1-2 Tablespoons of rehydrated dried cranberries (to taste).
  5. Spray a cast iron skillet with nonstick spray. Heat over medium heat.
  6. Add chicken pieces to skillet and brown lightly on both sides.
  7. Place chicken pieces in one layer over rice, pushing down slightly to settle pieces into rice.
  8. In a small saucepan, mix together cranberry sauce, lemon juice, thyme leaves and a sprinkling of black pepper. Warm cranberry sauce mixture until it melts. Pour half of the sauce over chicken and rice. Sprinkle almonds over all, if using.
  9. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 35-45 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Uncover during the last few minutes of baking to allow almonds to brown slightly.
  10. Baste chicken with some of the remaining cranberry sauce mixture.
  11. Allow to rest 8 - 10 minutes prior to serving.
  12. Garnish with remaining sauce, a few dried cranberries and parsley, if desired.

 

Note: It’s easy and much cheaper to remove the skin from chicken breasts and thighs yourself. It may take you a minute or two extra in time, but the savings will be well worth your efforts.

Blog post and recipe provided by Riceland blogger Debbie Arnold of DiningwithDebbie.net.