Chicken and wild rice is amazing for multiple reasons. The main reason is all of the delicious flavors and textures. Searing then braising the chicken leaves the skin ultra crispy, the meat is succulent, and exploding with flavor. This is also a one pan meal so the dishes will be minimal. The secret ingredient that really makes this dish great is the apple cider. You can taste a subtle sweetness and acidity that goes really well with the chicken.
First thing you need to do is pre heat your cast iron skillet to medium high heat. Meanwhile, season both sides of the chicken with salt. Once the skillet is heated add a few tablespoons of neutral oil to sear the chicken, I used grape seed oil. Place the chicken skin side down, sear for about 7 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and crispy. I like to sear the legs and thighs a little bit longer to render out more fat. Flip the chicken and cook for a few more minutes. Transfer to a sheet pan after it’s done being seared.
Now that the chicken is out of the pan there is rendered chicken fat and remnants of chicken skin. This is the perfect invitation to cook some veg in all of that flavor. Add the onion and garlic to the pan, cook for 5 minutes. Then add the celery, carrots, and mushrooms, cook for about 10 minutes. We’re not looking to fully cook the veg, only partially cook it. Now add the wild rice, mix it with everything else in the pan, let it toast for about 5 minutes. This adds additional flavor to the rice and reduces cooking time. Add the stock, apple cider, thyme, and a pinch of salt. Nestle the seared chicken pieces in the rice leaving the skin exposed. This is a good time to pre heat your oven to 350. Once liquid in the skillet starts to boil, place the entire pan in the oven for 1 hour.
Carefully remove the pan from the oven. Using a thermometer, the temp should register at 165 degrees or above for safe eating. My preferred temp for chicken breast is 165 but I prefer the legs and thighs at 180. The higher temp for the dark meat makes the chicken more tender and renders additional fat out making the eating experience much more enjoyable.
- Always temp chicken to 165 degrees with a thermometer to avoid over cooking and more importantly indicate that it’s heated to safe temperature to consume. I’ve recommended this thermometer to many people. I’ve had several and they’ve all been used and abused, including dropping one in a deep fryer then fishing it out and using for a few more months. They’re accurate and very durable.
- I recommend breaking down your own whole chicken because it’s cost effective but if you’re not interested in doing that just buy a quartered chicken
1 whole chicken, break down your own or buy it already done
Neutral oil for searing chicken
1 medium onion, small dice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery stick, small dice
2 medium sized carrots, peeled cut on an angle
8oz baby bella mushrooms sliced
1 cup wild rice
3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider
2 thyme sprigs
2 tsp kosher salt
Kosher salt to season chicken and rice
- Start by preheating a cast iron skillet to medium high heat. While skillet is heating season both sides of the chicken pieces with salt. Sear chicken skin side down first for about 7 minutes or until golden then flip and cook for a few more minutes. Transfer chicken pieces to a sheet pan after they’re done being seared.
- Add onions and garlic to the same skillet you cooked the chicken in, saute for 5 minutes. Then add the carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Sauté for about 10 minutes. Then add the uncooked wild rice to the skillet, stir to mix with the other ingredients in the pan and toast the rice for about 5 minutes.
- Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
- Add the apple cider, stock, thyme, and a pinch of salt. Nestle the seared chicken in the skillet. Bring stock to a simmer then place the cast iron in the oven for about one hour. Chicken should all temp at 165 degrees minimum.