Chicken With Rice A Roni

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Chicken with rice a roni…chicken with rice a roni…california cuisine…italian cuisine…what do these two cuisines have in common? These are some of the thoughts (and probably crazy ones at that) that flash through my mind whenever I walk into an italian chicken restaurant. Hopefully, some of these thoughts will flash through your mind too when you visit Chicken With Rice A Roni.

Chicken Rice-A-Roni®

Made with shredded chicken, tender basmati rice, and smoky-sweet, caramelized onions and peppers, this chicken Rice-A-Roni® was inspired by a Lebanese rice and vermicelli pilaf. Garnish with fresh herbs, lemon juice, chili flakes, hot sauce, or even garlic-infused yogurt!

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Chicken Rice-a-Roni

Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

Prep:

35 mins

Additional:

25 mins

Cook:

2 hrs

Total:

3 hrs

Servings:

4

Yield:

4 servings

chicken, rice pilaf, and vegetables in a skillet on the stovetop

I didn’t think about becoming a professional chef until High School, but my interest in all things food started way before then. Most of my earliest, most vivid childhood memories revolve around new foods, like my first visit to a Chinese restaurant, traveling to New York City to visit my Polish grandmother and her pierogi, my uncle Billy’s homemade sausage, and something I pronounced “shy-dia.”

Eating chicken and rice wasn’t that unusual, but this was a whole new experience, since it was studded with chickpeas, and browned strands of pasta, not to mention it was sort of yellow. At that age I assumed it was some kind of Italian recipe, but as I got older I learned it was actually based on a Lebanese dish called Riz Bi Sha’rieh.

From that time on, whenever I’d see an ad for Rice-a-Roni on TV, especially after I moved to San Francisco, I would smile knowingly. The “San Francisco treat?” I think not. Anyway, this is my version of that childhood favorite, and it remains one of my favorite comfort foods of all time, which is why I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients

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Original recipe yields 4 servingsHomemade Broth and Chicken Meat:

  • 1 (3 1/2) pound whole chicken
  • 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
  • ½ medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 quarts water

Chicken Rice-a-Roni

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • ⅓ cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup broken uncooked spaghetti (2-inch pieces)
  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads, crushed (Optional)
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • ⅓ cup frozen green peas, thawed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, or to taste

Directions

Instructions Checklist

  • Step 1Place chicken, celery, carrot, onion, and bay leaf in a stockpot and cover with water. Set over high heat, add salt, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the thighs and legs can be pulled easily from the carcass, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove chicken to a bowl, carefully tipping the carcass to drain any broth from the cavity back into the stockpot.
  • Step 2Let meat sit until it’s cool enough to handle, 15 to 20 minutes. Separate skin, bones, and meat. Set aside 2 cups shredded meat (white, dark, or a combination of the two) for rice-a-roni and reserve the rest for another use.
  • Step 3Transfer skin and bones back to the stockpot with the broth and simmer for 1 to 2 hours or until you need it. Strain.
  • Step 4Combine oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot and melted, add onion, bell pepper, and salt. Cook and stir until onion just starts to turn translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add broken spaghetti and cook until toasted and light golden brown to dark brown in color, about 3 minutes; it’s okay if the onions and peppers start to caramelize.
  • Step 5Add rice and stir until completely coated. Add pepper, oregano, cumin, and saffron. Stir in 3 ½ cups chicken broth. Add cayenne, garbanzo beans, peas, and shredded chicken and return to a simmer.
  • Step 6Cover tightly with a lid, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes; do not lift the lid or stir during this time.
  • Step 7Remove the lid and check the rice in a couple spots. It should be just barely tender. (If it seems undercooked, you can cover and cook for a few more minutes.) Replace the lid, turn off the heat, and let rice sit for 10 minutes.
  • Step 8Sprinkle parsley and cilantro over top and stir to combine. Check for seasoning and serve immediately.

 I Made It Print

Chef’s Notes:

You can use leftover chicken and store-bought broth if you’d like, instead of making your own.

Any long-grain white rice can be used instead of basmati.

Editor’s Note:

Nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of chicken and broth. The actual amount of chicken and broth consumed will vary.

MONTEREY CHICKEN RICE-A-RONI CASSEROLE

Monterey Chicken Rice-a-Roni Casserole – GREAT weeknight chicken casserole. Super easy to make and tastes amazing!! Can make ahead and freeze for a quick meal later! Chicken Rice-A-Roni, cooked chicken, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, spinach, garlic, Monterey Jack cheese, and french fried onions. Everyone cleaned their plate and went back for seconds!

scooping chicken and rice from baking dish

Remember this recipe.

Easy Chicken & Rice Casserole

This Monterey Chicken Rice-A-Roni has quickly become a favorite at our house. It is super easy to make and tastes great! Chicken, spinach, Monterey Jack cheese, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, rice-a-roni, garlic, and french fried onions. One bite and you will be blown away! I don’t even like spinach and I ate two big helpings of this casserole. It is absolutely delicious! You must give this a try ASAP!

baking dish of chicken spinach and rice in a baking dish

How to Make Monterey Chicken Rice-A-Roni Casserole

This casserole is super easy to make with only a few simple ingredients. Start with preparing a box of Chicken Rice-a-Roni according to the package directions. Combine the cooked rice with sour cream and cream of chicken soup. Stir in frozen spinach, Monterey Jack cheese, garlic, french fried onions, and chopped chicken. Spread the mixture into a baking dish. Top with more french fried onions and bake.

scooping chicken and rice from baking dish

What to Serve with Chicken Casserole

We ate this casserole for dinner and had the leftovers for lunch during the week. The leftovers were just as good, if not better reheated! We usually serve this with some green beans or broccoli. This is also great with a salad and a roll. Here are a few of our favorite recipes from the blog that go great with this easy casserole:

scooping chicken and rice from baking dish

MONTEREY CHICKEN RICE-A-RONI CASSEROLE

Yield: 6 people

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Total Time 45 mins

Monterey Chicken Rice-a-Roni Casserole – GREAT weeknight chicken casserole. Super easy to make and tastes amazing!! Can make ahead and freeze for a quick meal later! Chicken Rice-A-Roni, cooked chicken, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, spinach, garlic, Monterey Jack cheese, and french fried onions. Everyone cleaned their plate and went back for seconds!

Equipment:

  • 10-inch Skillet
  • 9×13-inch Baking Dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 box chicken flavor Rice-A-Roni
  • 1 (10.75-oz) can cream of chicken soup
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 (10-oz) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups cooked chopped chicken
  • 1½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 (6-oz) can French fried onions, divided

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Prepare Rice-A-Roni according to package directions. Add soup, sour cream, spinach, garlic, chicken, cheese, and half of the fried onions. Stir to combine.
  • Spread rice mixture into prepared pan. Top rice with the remaining fried onions.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Notes:

  • Make sure to get as much of the water out of the frozen spinach as possible. I drain it in a colander and then squeeze it with a towel or paper towels until it is almost dry.
  • Can Chicken Rice-a-Roni Casserole be made in advance? Yes! You can assemble the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it overnight. You may need to add a few minutes to the cooking time if baking the casserole straight from the refrigerator.
  • Can Chicken Rice-a-Roni Casserole be frozen? Yes! Assemble the casserole and cover the dish with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Place the dish in the freezer and freeze. The casserole will keep up to 3 months in the freezer.
    • To bake the casserole after freezing, thaw completely and bake as directed.

Ingredients

  • package RICE-A-RONI® Chicken
  • pound uncooked, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • tablespoons margarine
  • cups water
  • cup small broccoli florets (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Preparation Steps

  1. In large skillet, sauté rice-vermicelli mix with 2 Tbsp. margarine over medium heat until vermicelli is golden brown, stirring frequently.
  2. Slowly stir in 2 cups water, Special Seasonings and 1 lb. uncooked, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces; bring to a boil.
  3. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 15-20 min. or until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Let stand 5 min. before serving.

Tips and Variations

  • Add 1 cup small broccoli florets during last 5 min. of simmering. Top with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese before stand time.

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