Chicken Thigh

A One-Skillet Chicken & Turmeric Rice to Add to Your Winter Rotation

It's got tomato, spice, and everything nice.

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December  8, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

We've partnered with Pomì—makers of quality Italian tomato products, like their chopped tomatoes and double-concentrated tomato paste (no added salt here, just tomato!)—to share the new weeknight-friendly recipe we're adding to our winter rotation: a saucy one-skillet chicken and rice.


For a dish to land on my weeknight dinner all-stars list, there are two key elements it must have: It must be low maintenance (read: dirty very few dishes) and filled with flavor (but not necessarily a ton of ingredients).

This one-skillet chicken with tomato turmeric rice hits both of those marks with ease. For starters, you only need one large ovenproof pot (like a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven). It’s also loaded with snappy pantry ingredients—including a handful of spices and two types of tomatoes— that work together like a dream.

Basically, it’s an all-in-one meal that satisfies a table of hungry bellies.


A Flavor-Packed Spice Blend

When it comes to spices, I tend to be heavy-handed. My intuition guides me as I voraciously shake the heck out of my seasoning bottles until my inner voice tells me, many seconds later, to say “when.” Which is why you’ll find that this dish is packed with flavor, while still maintaining a delicate balance.

As you glance at the ingredients list, you may notice the inclusion of cumin, coriander, and turmeric—spices that are typically associated with Indian cooking. Many traditional Caribbean dishes actually utilize a similar set of spices, and growing up with a Jamaican mom, these are the flavors that feel most familiar to me. So naturally, I turn to them often, especially during weeknights when I’m craving something hearty and satisfying.

I almost stopped at this trinity of spices, but as I played around with the recipe, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing. That something was smoked paprika, aka my ultimate spice obsession. Smoked paprika is made from pimento peppers that have been dried, smoked, and ground. This smokiness adds complexity to the chicken’s flavor by rounding out the other earthy spices and enhancing the rustic, tomatoey essence of the rice.


Bring on The Tomatoes

For being such a simple ingredient, tomatoes bring all the drama to this skillet party: body, color, and richness.

The combination of both tomato paste and chopped tomatoes brings two different elements to the rice: The concentrated tomato paste lends a deep-red hue to the rice and adds a powerful tomato flavor, while the chopped tomatoes create texture and moisture for the rice to absorb.


Tips for Making It At Home

The dish mimics the cooking method for rice pilaf or paella. Every step of the way builds a new layer of flavor: The chicken thighs are seared skin-side down until golden; once they are cooked and removed from the pan, the rice is toasted in the chicken fat, picking up the fond at the bottom of the skillet leftover from the chicken. Toasting the rice creates a floral nuttiness that you can’t achieve without this small, but mighty step. (If you want to easily amp up the floral flavor, opt for jasmine rice.)

When the rice is nice and toasty, this is when I like to add the tomato paste. I tend to “cook” my tomato paste first before incorporating it into a liquid to slightly caramelize the flavor and break up any clumps.

Then the chopped tomatoes and chicken stock are added to the skillet and all the ingredients are brought up to a rolling simmer. This will ensure that the rice steams immediately once it’s removed from the stovetop and placed into the oven, along with the chicken thighs. Depending on how hot or cool your oven runs and the type of rice that you cook with, the chicken and rice should be ready in 30 minutes. However, if the timer goes off and there’s still a puddle of liquid, bake for an additional 10 minutes, which should do the trick.

After that, all you have to do is finish off the dish with a hefty handful of freshly chopped cilantro for freshness and a quick squeeze of lemon for bright acidity. It really is that easy.

What's your favorite winter weeknight skillet dinner? Tell us in the comments below!

Upgrade your weeknight dinners this winter with a few simple, yet delicious ingredients—like our partner Pomì's chopped tomatoes and double-concentrated tomato paste. Cultivated from over 370 farms in Northern Italy, Pomì tomato products are picked at peak freshness and packaged close to the source. They're the perfect, pantry-friendly addition to your kitchen, for when your dishes need a burst of bright flavor—especially during the chillier months.

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Freelance Food Writer

1 Comment

Tristan December 13, 2019
Its's amazing how a simple dish can have variety of flavors with common spices. It's quick and easy to make and is surely great for this winter season. This dish brings something different from the traditional winter candies and treats.