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
- 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
- Rehydrate dried cranberries in warm water at least 30 minutes prior to using; drain completely; set aside
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- 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).
- Spray a cast iron skillet with nonstick spray. Heat over medium heat.
- Add chicken pieces to skillet and brown lightly on both sides.
- Place chicken pieces in one layer over rice, pushing down slightly to settle pieces into rice.
- 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.
- 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.
- Baste chicken with some of the remaining cranberry sauce mixture.
- Allow to rest 8 - 10 minutes prior to serving.
- 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.