Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

03 Mar

Okay, I’ve never been to Las Vegas but I have watched the movie “21” which must be where I heard that catchy little phrase.  Did you know “winner winner chicken dinner” is from way back in the day when you could get a meal for under two dollars?  Apparently, if you won two bucks in the casino you could treat yourself to a complete chicken dinner.  The things we learn …

Well, I never plan to venture out to the land of neon, but my roasted chicken Sunday supper was most definitely a winner.  A “winner winner” if you will.  Why?  Pastured chicken.  If you’ve never had it then you are missing out and should really try to find some.  It’s just head and shoulders (and wings) above even a good store bought organic chicken, although I use those often.

Late last fall, I bought several pastured chickens and had one big precious bird left in the freezer.  I was saving it for a special occasion … and I think seventy degrees, sunny, and Sunday qualified.   As always with quality food, simple is best.  I simply rubbed the skin with butter, sprinkled it with salt, filled the cavity with some fresh thyme and a cut up lemon and roasted it at 400 degrees.  It was perfection.

Of course Sunday Supper typically means a “meat and three” down here in the thankfully sunny South.  In addition to my classic thyme and sage gravy, I mashed some organic russet potatoes with sautéed baby spinach, caramelized onions, garlic, butter, and light cream.  That’s a keeper recipe!  Also roasted a head of cauliflower drizzled with olive oil and then a big acorn squash cut in quarters with butter and brown sugar.  Here’s my bucket:


What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • russet potato peels
  • spent tulip petals & stems
  • cauliflower core & outer leaves
  • garlic paper
  • acorn squash seeds
  • yellow onion skin & stem ends
  • clementine peel
  • spinach leaf
  • hiding underneath are six banana peels, chopped & froze for smoothies & ice cream

Sunday’s dessert, quite possibly my favorite part of any meal, was a choice of exceptionally delicious leftovers including the very healthy but still fantastic cowboy cookies that I had shipped to my college boy or the most amazing chocolate cake you will ever eat, or my version of “leftover” rice pudding.  Since that rice pudding is so simple and foolproof (I think) I’ll share it with you.

Leftover Rice Pudding

  • leftover rice of your choice (brown, basmati, jasmine, just not instant)
  • milk of your choice (I used whole milk, but almond, coconut, etc. work too)
  • sweetener of your choice (honey, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, brown sugar – I’ve used them all, but would not recommend agave)
  • half and half or light cream or heavy cream if you’d like
  • raisins or other dried fruit, like dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, apricots…

If your rice is still in the pot in which it was cooked (I make extra rice to make this recipe so I leave it in the pot and refrigerate immediately) break up the grains with a spoon so there are no large chunks.  Smooth out all the rice into a nice layer and add milk to just cover the rice by about an inch.  Place on the burner (I use gas) over medium high heat and bring to a quick boil.  As soon as it boils, turn the heat as low as it will go and simmer until the milk is absorbed.  The lid can be on or off but I usually cover it.  This might take 15 to 30 minutes depending on the rice you used, the amount of heat and how quickly the rice absorbs the milk.

Once the rice is absorbed, check for consistency – taste it!  If you like it the way it is, move to the next step.  If you think it could be softer, add more milk and keep simmering (no need to bring back to boil).  I usually add more milk.  I like mine to be really creamy with a little bit of bite to the rice and a lot of thick milky goodness.

Once the rice has reached your desired consistency, add sweetener to taste (I used evaporated cane juice).  Stir well and add any dried fruit (I used regular old raisins).  You’ll want the fruit to plump up a bit, so add a little bit more milk than you think you need (maybe a quarter to a third of a cup) and simmer another ten minutes or so.  Keep checking and tasting.  When the fruit is the way you like, you can add a splash of cream for richness, and, if you think it needs it, a little bit more sweetener.  All that added milk tends to dilute the original sweetness, so check to make sure.

That’s it.  Cool a bit and eat it warm and soon you’ll be making extra rice all the time for this recipe too.  If you decide to put it in the fridge make sure the rice is a little bit runny as it firms up as it cools.

A final note … you really can’t ruin this recipe.  I put my rice & milk on to simmer with a lid on it and LEFT MY HOUSE.  In the car.  For over an hour.   Honestly, I forgot I had started it.  My husband called and said, “uh, honey, what’s on the stove?”  Whoops.  It was a little sticky with some golden spots (not brown burned spots) when I got home so I added a lot of milk, simmered a bit more and, amazingly, it turned out really delicious.

See what I mean about “winner winner chicken dinner”?


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