It’s been called one of the most over-rated dishes on the planet by one or two in-laws, but to me every bite is a mouthful of precious memories.

Organic before organic was hip, chicken & rice had its origins at 1320 3rd St. N.E. before I was born and made good use of ingredients that I imagine were easy for Grandma Cookie and Grandpa Happy to get their hands on – old hens that roamed their backyard and tomatoes from their garden set up in glass jars and stored in their basement, plus an exotic touch inspired by their Greek neighbor Dot (again, I imagine) – handfuls of huge green olives with the pits in them, tossed in 15 minutes or so before serving the stuff over rice.

Here’s a modern version of the recipe for those without ready access to backyard chickens and canned homegrown tomatoes:

1 stewing chicken or any other whole bird you can get your hands on

1, maybe 2 containers Swanson’s organic chicken broth

2 large cans Hunts crushed tomatoes

sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

5 cloves garlic

2 pinches curry

4 pinches cayenne pepper

2 jars queen green olives with the pits

Put the bird in a pot and cover half way with purified water.  Then the rest of the way with organic chx broth.  Simmer about 2 hours.  Take the cooked bird out to cool.  Saute finely chopped garlic on low heat in olive oil.  When translucent, add one can tomatoes.  Simmer for a bit.  Pour into pot.  Add remaining can of tomatoes to pot.  Add curry and cayenne.  More to taste if you want … 

Cook and cook.   Knit a bit.  Make a few phone calls.  Write.  Take a big nap.  Keep cooking.  Stir occasionally with Grandma Cookie’s wooden spoon.

When cool enough to touch, pick the chicken from the bones and throw in the pot.  Repeat paragraph above.  Add more chx broth if you like it soupier.

Make your rice.  (I recommend using a rice cooker.)

Now dump in the olives and simmer about 15 minutes.

Serve it up in bowls. 

I made a batch of this tonight for mom’s 70th birthday party in MN hosted by my sister Kris.  For years it’s been the requested birthday dinner by every member of my family.  Is it really that good?  Or is it as the in-laws say, “over-rated”?

You be the judge.

About the Author Julie Ann Stevens

My art flows from the patterns & paths of my lived experience which ⏤ like yours ⏤ are at once deeply personal and entirely universal.

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