I really think Campbell’s Soup might have a vendetta against the rice growers of America. Or something.
I’ll explain. When I first moved to south Florida, I was on a majorly tight budget and in need of recipes that would meet my needs. One item I had in excess thanks to a minor spree at Costco a year earlier was cream of mushroom soup, so I started searching the Campbell’s website to figure out how to use the 37 cans I had in my pantry. The best looking, least expensive recipe was a one-dish baked number with chicken and white rice. Easy-peasy, right? Throw in your soup, some water, your uncooked rice, and a couple of pieces of chicken, and pull it out 45 minutes later to enjoy your soft and creamy rice with perfectly cooked chicken breast. Yum. And yet, no matter how long I cooked the damn thing or tweaked the amounts of liquid, the rice was crunchy and undercooked. Every. Single. Time. It’s a testament to how broke I was and how much canned soup I owned that I kept making it, convinced that I could somehow come up with something good. The husband requested that we try cooking something else about four minutes after we got married, which was fine, because that was about when I ran out of soup.
Skip ahead three years, and my husband now plays on a recreational basketball league which requires us to eat in approximately 17 minutes every Wednesday night before he rushes off to beat the other teams of middle-aged accountants. I’ve been looking for recipes that could work with his requirements: quick to cook, hearty but not heavy, protein-rich. I still get those weekly recipe suggestions emailed to me from Campbell’s and a recent note proposed an updated version of my old nemesis, the one-pot chicken and rice. Only this one was made with instant rice, and it was in a skillet. With broccoli. How bad could this be? It’s right there on the rice package: one minute cook-time. The recipe states that it will cook for five minutes. There is no way to fail.
This dish failed. I refuse to say that I failed as a cook, because the cards were stacked against me. Namely, Campbell’s and their hatred of the rice industry in general. After cooking this thing for five minutes as directed, I tasted the rice. Crunchy, and now I had a burned mouth: fantastic. I put the lid back on the skillet, leave it on the stove for an additional five minutes, and taste again. Still basically raw. Superb. Five more minutes, and while it’s not quite raw, it’s still not really what I’d want to eat for dinner. Or ever.
We did eat the chicken, which was fairly tasty, and the broccoli, which was fully squishy with all that cooking time. I’ve adjusted this to reflect what I think would work better, although I’ll give fair warning that I have not actually tried this method yet. But seriously, it could not go much worse than the original. Godspeed.
Chicken with Broccoli & Brown Rice
1 pound, chicken breasts/cutlets/favorite piece of chicken
1 can, condensed cream of mushroom soup (whatever kind you like, no love for any certain brand around here)
Brown rice of your choosing, the instant stuff is obviously quicker than traditional
2 cups broccoli, fresh or frozen
Heat up a little olive oil or vegetable oil in a skillet and then cook your chicken. My cutlets took about 6 or 7 minutes total, but a breast would take a few minutes longer. In a separate pot, cook your rice according to the package’s instructions. Once it’s done, and fluffy and ricey, then toss it with your can of soup. If it’s too thick for your liking, you can mix in a bit of water, but the thickness of the soup should make the brown rice a little richer and creamier. Cook your broccoli and then serve it with the rice and chicken. Yes, you used three dishes instead of the one that Rice-Hater Soup Company would suggest, but it’ll be cooked properly and taste better.
Simple? Yes. But sometimes we need overly simple. Serves one hungry, basketball-playing guy and his wife, if anyone’s asking.