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~ Grilling & Chilling: Chicken & Rice-is-Nice Salad ~

IMG_0576We grill a lot of chicken, and, for as long as the grilling season lasts (which is well into the Winter), we make it a point to put a couple of extra, generically-seasoned pieces on the grill because:  I enjoy it cold the next day -- it tastes great and comes in handy when I'm pressed for time.  That said, once refrigerated, I do not like it reheated.  It tastes funky.  Got cold chicken? Make me a sandwich or throw it in a salad.  Reheat it?  Out the door it goes along with you.  

My grilled chicken policy is:  eat it hot one day, eat it cold the next.

IMG_0581I have a few favorite recipes "in-my-back-apron-pocket" for cold, leftover grilled chicken, and, this rice salad is one of my quickest-easiest favorites.  That said, I'm just as picky about "the state of the rice" as I am steadfast about my chicken policy.  The rice cannot be refrigerated overnight. It tastes funky.  The rice must be fragrant.  Jasmine is my preference, but nutty basmati is AOK too -- freshly-steamed, fluffy, and, at room temperature.  There's no flip-flopping on either issue.

IMG_0555The state-of-the fragrant rice is:  freshly-steamed, fluffy & at room temp.

PICT3936When I need cooked basmati or jasmine rice for any reason, I use my electric rice steamer exclusively. Simply add the rice, add the water, close the lid and turn it on.  In about the same time it takes to cook long-grain white rice standing at the stovetop, this miracle machine does all the work.  It's completely foolproof -- as long as you read the instructions and follow them. There's more: ~ Cooking Broccoli or Cauliflower in a Rice Steamer ~, is just as easy.  You can find out how I do it by clicking into Categories 4, 14, 15 or 21.  If you find cooking rice the traditional way hard to do, a rice steamer is the appliance for you.  Trust me. 

Cooking the fragrant rice in an electric rice steamer:

6a0120a8551282970b014e60ec75ce970c-320wiA bit about jasmine rice:  Jasmine rice is a polished, long-grain silky, white rice known for its fragrance, aroma and scent.  It was named after the sweet-smelling jasmine flower of Southeast Asia, and, as jasmine rice cooks, it releases its perfumy scent.  When properly cooked it is soft, white and fluffy.  Its very distinctive flavor complements all Asian fare in particular.

6a0120a8551282970b014e60ed4c8b970c-320wiPrior to cooking, it should be rinsed under cold running water.  Place it in a colander and while the water is running, move it around with your fingertips until the water running through it comes out clear.  Set the colander aside and let it drain a bit, about 5-10 minutes, before cooking:

2  cups uncooked jasmine rice

cooked as directed below.

Note:  Jasmine rice is sometimes compared to Indian basmati rice, which is also a fragrant, long-grain white rice, however, basmati is aged before being sold and has a delicious, nuttier flavor. It's a fair comparison, and, while both rices cook the same (using less water than conventional long-grain white rice) to produce fluffy, slightly-chewy grains, I personally do not use them interchangeably.  I prefer to use jasmine rice exclusively when I am serving Asian fare, and basmati rice exclusively when I am serving Indian or Middle Eastern fare.  This choice is yours.

PICT0007Step 1.  Using the cup/measure from an electric rice steamer, place 2 cups of rinsed, uncooked jasmine rice in the steamer.  Using the same cup/measure, add an equal amount of water, or a 1-to-1 ratio of rice-to-water, + 1/4 cup water.  Briefly stir the rice, close the lid and turn the steamer on.  Do not uncover or stir during the steaming process.  When the steamer turns itself off, the rice is done.  Unplug the machine

PICT0004Step 2.  Uncover and fluff, meaning:  rake through the rice with a fork to separate the grains.

6a0120a8551282970b01676898ea74970bStep 3. Transfer the rice to a 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Loosely cover (don't seal it airtight) with plastic wrap and allow to cool to room temperature, about 1-1 1/2 hours.

Making Chicken & Rice-is-Nice Salad w/White Balsamic Vinaigrette:

IMG_05574  cups freshly-steamed jasmine or basmati rice, cooled to room temperature

2 1/2-3  cups grilled chicken, diced or shredded, at room temperature

1 1/2-2  cups grape tomatoes, cut into quarters, at room temperature

3/4-1 cup small diced red onion

1/2-3/4 cup chiffonade of fresh basil leaves

1/2-3/4  cup your favorite vinaigrette, preferably homemade (Note:  See Cook's Note below to get my recipe for ~ My Basic White Balsamic Vinaigrette ~.)

IMG_0565 IMG_0563~ Step 1. Prep all ingredients exactly as directed. Place in a large bowl and add 1/2 cup of your favorite vinaigrette.  All to rest about 5-10 minutes.  Toss again and add more dressing, in small amounts, tossing after each addition, to taste, adding just enough to flavor the salad without any dressing puddling in the bottom of the bowl.

Portion into 1-cup rice bowls (no bed of lettuce for me please), serve w/a warm dinner roll, butter & a glass of white wine:

IMG_0582Grilling & Chilling:  Chicken & Rice-is-Nice Salad: Recipe yields about 8 cups, a little more or a little less and 6-8 servings.

Special Equipment List:  electric rice steamer; fork; 12 1/2 x 8 3/4" baking pan; parchment paper; cutting board; chef's knife

6a0120a8551282970b017c321512dc970bCook's Note:  For my basic white balsamic vinaigrette:

1  cup white balsamic vinegar

1/2  cup vegetable oil

2-4  tablespoons sugar, to taste

2  tablespoons Dijon mustard

Step 1.  In a 2-cup food storage container with a tight-fitting lid, place all ingredients.  Vigorously shake until thoroughly combined.

PICT1176Step 2.  To vinaigrette, add:  2 tablespoons Italian seasoning blend or dried basil or oregano

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

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)


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