Because I’m not not yet sailing along the Caribbean on the deliciously magnificent Oasis of the Seas, I decided to bring a little of the influence of the islands into my living room.
That, and I’m getting a little tired of my weekly rotation of either salmon + roasted asparagus or salad with grilled chicken.
Lately I’ve been digging Epicurious’ recipes and site in general, so as I was browsing (read: being sucked into the Matrix) the other day, I clicked on the Healthy tab and this chicken recipe quickly caught my eye. I wanted to make something on the side, so the first thing I thought of was rice.
Meal planning and figuring out what goes with what is something my friends ask about all the time; if nothing comes to mind I either browse recipes for ideas or just start Googling away. Because I don’t normally cook this type of food, I went the Google route. “Caribbean rice” took me to coconut, so I then searched “coconut brown rice” and found this recipe on Saveur‘s website. And because I normally like to include some type of veggie when I am cooking, I grabbed some snow peas in the produce section and was good to go.
*Bonus points: Not only can you prep and cook your chicken while your rice is cooking, but you add your snow peas right on top of the rice as it finishes cooking, and they just steam away right in there with the rice. Love that.
Pineapple-Glazed Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa and Coconut Brown Rice with Steamed Snow Peas
Recipes adapted from Epicurious.com and Saveur.com, respectively.
- 3/4 cup pineapple juice
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 3/4 cup 1/4-inch cubes fresh pineapple
- 3 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeno (I like it spicy – so use more or less depending on your taste)
- 4 boneless chicken breast halves
Rice and Snow Peas:
- 1 piece peeled fresh ginger (about a 1 or 2 inch piece)
- 2 cups brown rice (or brown jasmine rice if you can find it)
- 1 1/2 cups lite coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Cilantro sprigs for garnish
- Fresh snow peas (I just grabbed a package in the product aisle – however much you want to eat)
The rice takes the longest, so get started on that first.
This was my first time cooking with fresh ginger – and it was so easy and worth it. You can either use a vegetable peeler, or just flip a spoon upside down and scrape the skin off (it’s surprisingly soft). After it’s peeled, pound the ginger with the back of your knife (just like you do with garlic) a few times to soften it up and get the juices flowing.
Rinse the rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. Transfer the rice to a 3 quart saucepan and add the coconut milk, 1.5 cups cold water, the salt, and the ginger. Place the pan over high heat and bring the liquid to a boil while constantly stirring so the rice on the bottom doesn’t burn. Allow the rice to boil for 15 seconds, and keep on stirring.
Now you’re ready to let it simmer for a while. Because it’s brown rice, it takes longer to cook. So reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the liquid is completely absorbed and rice is tender, about 45 minutes (if you notice your rice is drying up quickly you can add more water).
While the rice is going you can make your salsa and prep your chicken.
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Bring the pineapple juice, brown sugar, and mustard to boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. No exact science necessary here; I actually tripled the recipe (recipe said 1/4 cup juice, I had 3/4 cup) and just threw in whatever brown sugar I had left in a bag. Boil for a couple minutes until the liquid reduces down into a glaze, and season it up with salt and pepper.
Now time for this ridiculously amazing salsa. I used a fresh pineapple here – another first for me! At first the thing scared me, but it was so easy to work with. Just cut the top off, then stand it up and cut the sides off in strips. If you have any leftover pieces you can use your knife or even a vegetable peeler to clean it up. That’s it – now just chop it up, and mix it with your red pepper, cilantro, onion, and jalapeno in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the chicken breasts in a glass baking dish (or a sheet pan lined with foil) and brush with the glaze. Bake 15 minutes. Brush again with glaze, then broil until cooked through and golden, about 5 minutes longer (careful with the broil – don’t let it burn!). Take the chicken out and let it rest for 5 minutes (like you should do when cooking any meat – helps keep it nice ‘n juicy).
Your rice should be almost done now! Remove the pot from the heat; add the snow peas on top and allow them both to continue to steam, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and if you want to be fancy garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro (I did it because I had cilantro on hand for the salsa).
Spoon that salsa love all over the chicken and serve with the rice and snow peas.