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~ Mel's E-Z Chicken and Rice Dinner a la Uncle Ben ~

IMG_8604This is not the recipe I was expecting to post today, but, when 2"-4" of snow turns into a forecast of 9"-12" followed by freezing rain, my plans to show you a couple of elegant recipes for New Year's Eve must be put on hold.  Instead, I head into my pantry, which is a fun place to be on a day like today.  Having lived in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania my entire life, snow storms are a Wintertime way of life.  At this time of year, I always keep some boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a pork tenderloin, and a bag or two of shrimp in the freezer.  By using one or the other in conjuction with some pasta or rice, I can always "pull a rabbit out of my hat" on a snowy night.  

IMG_8269One item I always keep on hand is Uncle Ben's Long-Grain & Wild Rice Mix.  This isn't an ingredient that I grew up eating, because it wasn't introduced to the American public until 1972.  I got married in 1974, and, as a new bride, I began dabbling with ways to use it almost immediately.  FYI:  This easy-to-prepare, delicious, skillet dinner, has stood the test of time.

IMG_8278When our boys were growing up, they loved whenever I would make this, and they are the ones who named it "Uncle Ben's Chicken", which makes me smile just typing that.  Over the years, this budget-friendly recipe has also been one of my go-to, time-saving meals on busy "soccer mom" weeknights.  It goes from stovetop to table in less than one hour and there's only one skillet to clean up afterward. What's not to love about that.

IMG_8299For the chicken:

6  tablespoons butter

 6a0120a8551282970b015436ead4c6970c-120wi3  large, meaty, boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 10-12 ounces each, cut in half widthwise to form six relatively even-sized 5-6 ounce portions. (Note:  If you want to serve larger portions, do not cut the chicken in half.  Proceed with recipe as directed.)

freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

1/4  cup Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour for Sauce and Gravy, slightly more or slightly less

For the rice:

1  cup white wine

2  6-ounce boxes Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice, "original recipe"

2  4 1/2-ounce jars sliced mushrooms, undrained

2  cups water

IMG_8291 IMG_8284~ Step 1. Using a pair of kitchen shears, trim the chicken of all visible fat.  Slice in half as directed above and place all six halves in a 2-gallon food storage bag.  Using the flat side of a meat mallet, lightly pound each piece until it is about 1/3 larger than its original size.  Do not smash them to smithereens. Lightly pounding the meat will allow it to cook quickly without drying out.

6a0120a8551282970b015436eadd96970c-320wi~ Step 2.  Remove the chicken from the bag and lightly season the top sides with salt, pepper and a sprinkling of flour.  Set aside for about 15 minutes.  This will allow the flour to absorb moisture from the chicken which will result in a light, golden brown crust when sauteed.

~ Step 3.  In a 5 1/2-quart chef's pan, melt the butter over low heat.

IMG_8305 IMG_8301~ Step 4. Add the chicken to pan, floured side down. Sprinkle the "new" tops with flour. Don't add any more salt and pepper.

Note:  The spice packet from the rice mix contains seasonings and salt, meaning:  adding more salt and pepper would be a mistake.

IMG_8338 IMG_8329~ Step 5. Adjust heat to saute, until chicken is lightly browned, about 6 minutes per side, turning only once. Add the wine and cook for 30 more seconds, gently lifting and moving the chicken, to make sure there's an even coating of liquid in bottom of pan.

IMG_8345 IMG_8341~ Step 6. Add the rice and the mushrooms. Add both seasoning packets and the 2 cups of water.

Quickly increase/adjust heat to a gentle but steady simmer.


IMG_8348Step 7.  Cover the pan and continue to cook, until all of the liquid is absorbed and rice is fully cooked, about 22-25 minutes.

Note:  Dinner is now ready to serve, but, if you have a bit of extra time, remove the covered pan from the heat and set it aside to rest, about 20-30 additional minutes. This will give you ample time to cook up your favorite vegetable side dish.

A snowstorm post for my friends on the East Coast!

IMG_8537Mel's E-Z Chicken and Rice Dinner a la Uncle Ben:  Recipes yields 6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  kitchen shears; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-gallon food storage bag; flat-sided meat-mallet; 5 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid

IMG_8567Cook's Note: If you are wondering what I am serving with this glorious chicken and rice dish, my recipe for ~ Oven-Roasted, Maple-Glazed, Candied Carrots ~ can be found in Categories 4, 19 or 20!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschuttti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


Always great to hear from you Jen. ~ Mel.

Thanks, look forward to giving that a try next time we make this!

Jen -- I have made this with pork, and we love it, but not chops. I take a small pork tenderloin and cut it into 3/4"-ish medallions and lightly pound them -- For a family of four, it works out to about 3-4 medallions per person. It is wonderful. So glad you are enjoying this recipe as much as we do! ~ Mel.

Hi Melanie,

Thank you for this great recipe! We make it often. Was wondering if you had ever tried it with pork chops instead of chicken - do you think the cooking time would need any adjustments to keep the chops from drying out?


Sebastian -- pantry cooking at its best! Thank you for the kind comment!

Food likes amazing. I am drooling at this very moment.

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