Gentle Readers, being Southern, as I am, there are few versions of chicken and rice that I haven’t tried. Yet, no matter how much of a fan of leftovers I am (cold fried chicken, cold pizza, cold Mexican, yes please), I rarely considered rice for breakfast.
As a regular business traveler to the West Coast, I have certainly seen the pot of congee gurgling along right beside the oatmeal, but I passed it by.
For various reasons, mainly that the Moscone Conference center has been undergoing major renovations, business life has kept me from downtown San Francisco, home to a little tea house called Samovar. I eat two things there: the yogurt with dates and apples and mint, and the jook with smoked duck. (I have been known to devour the grilled cheese with pesto when wisely special ordered by a friend, but let’s not let fact checking disrupt my flow here.)
Shame on me for not investigating further and realizing this before last month, but jook and congee are really close relatives. So when I started to crave jook, I googled and learned the new love of my kitchen life, my Instant Pot, could deliver.
Shout out to Sweet Comfort Kitchen, the Instant Pot Chicken Jook recipe I based my trial run upon. I used all water instead of broth. Chicken quarters are cheapest, and since I’m picky about my bird (I can legitimately taste the difference between commercial and organic chicken, snarky Perdue commercials notwithstanding), I bought those and cut them into two pieces with my trusty poultry shears.
(Sidenote, if you don’t own a pair of actual hardcore kitchen scissors, run don’t walk. To get them that is. After that, walk, because, well, scissors.)
Now just follow the recipe in the link above and you’ll get this:
Don’t be afraid to add more water to adjust to your preferred texture. And if you’re new to this like me, and have texture issues, like me, don’t skip the green onions and chopped peanuts or cashews. The soy sauce and toasted sesame oil shown here are key to punching the flavor. And when pollen slapped me in the face, I added red chili flakes to punch back.
At its core, this is very simple chicken and rice with ginger, amended at the table to your specific taste. The recipe makes a lot. Everyone ate it and I froze a couple for delayed gratification. The chicken was hearty and filling as well, and it reminded me a lot of Chicken and Dumplings with 1/10th of the work involved.
Not quite the refined smoked duck version of Samovar, but a great and simple technique to diversify breakfast, or really any meal. Savory rice, like so many other folks eat around the world, also lasts longer than my beloved commercial cereals, though it pains me to admit that.
What’s on your breakfast table? Tweet my way @practicalcook!