Cast Iron Chicken and California Rice
Courtesy of Savory Café, Woodland
1 Whole chicken
2 cups California Jasmine (California Basmati also works great)
2 Shallots – small dice
6-8 Sweet peppers – whole
2 Carrots – small dice
¼ cup Peas
1 tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Cumin
1 Preserved lemon (just peel no white – fine chop)
1 bunch Cilantro
½ cup Oil divided
3½ cups Chicken stock
To taste Salt
To taste Pepper
Prep time: 20 min. Cook time: 30–35 min.
This recipe can be made in a cast iron skillet or a dutch oven, as long as the pan is a heavy bottom pan.
Preparing the Chicken
Cut the chicken in quarters or eighths. You may also butterfly the chicken, leaving the breast whole and cutting the spine.
Make sure the chicken is dry. Season with salt and pepper to your liking and place it on a rack or a plate to let it come to room temperature.
In a 12-inch cast iron skillet (preheated to medium-high heat), add enough oil to brown the seasoned chicken, skin side down. Once it’s golden brown flip to its back side to par-cook the back. Start with the leg and thigh since they take a bit longer to cook. Place the browned chicken on a clean plate to rest so you can start the rice. Add a bit more oil to the pan to start browning your rice. Cook the rice in the pan until it starts getting a golden color about 5-10 minutes.
Next, add the shallots, cook for another 3 minutes, then add your cumin, turmeric and a pinch of salt. Cook for 3 more minutes to cook the spices into the rice. Add the saffron, preserved lemon, carrots, peas and chicken stock. Wait until the stock starts boiling and mix the rice together, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. You can add the sweet peppers at this point, or fire roast them and put them back to the rice whole for presentation and an extra burst of sweet smoky flavor. Taste the broth of the rice and adjust seasoning.
Put the chicken back into the rice as it boils. Turn the heat down to low and cover the skillet with a lid, parchment paper or foil. Cook on low heat until rice is done and liquid is absorbed.
Cut most of the cilantro stems off, season with a bit of salt and extra virgin olive oil (citrus if you have it) and bunch it on top of the chicken before serving for extra flavor and freshness to the dish. Enjoy!
Passion, creativity and an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients are all in a days’ work for brothers Juan and Toby Barajas.
Juan is sous chef and partner at Savory Café in Woodland, while Toby is Executive Chef. Savory Café was recently named Small Business of the Year for State Assembly District 4.
A major focus for Juan and Toby is cultivating strong relationships with local growers, to gain a greater knowledge and appreciation for Northern California farming and ranching.
Their family previously owned two other restaurants in Yolo County – Tostadas Conchita in Woodland and Las Maracas in Knights Landing.