Food & Drink

Get the rice 'drunk' for this smashing chicken dish

Beer is the secret ingredient to this chicken, rice and saffron dish. Drunken Chicken and Rice is a simple one-pot meal that can be made for a midweek dinner or increased for a quick weekend crowd pleaser.

The rice should not be dry and flaky. It should be “drunk” with the liquid. Valencia-style rice is best for this dish. It’s a short-grain or pearl rice that can be found in most supermarkets.

The grains are almost round and have a high starch content giving the rice a sticky, moist texture. Italian arborio rice, a short-grain rice used for making risotto, also can be used in this recipe.

The only chopping and cutting in this dinner is the onion. To cut down on preparation time, you can use frozen, chopped onions. The result will taste a little different, but still be good.


Substitute: Chicken breasts or any other cut can be substituted for chicken thighs.

Beer: Any type of beer can be used.

Cheaper: Turmeric can be substituted for saffron.

Nutritional content: This meal contains 585 calories per serving with 17 percent of calories from fat.

To buy: Small package Valencia-style rice, 1 red onion, 1 pound skinless chicken thighs on the bone, 1 small can tomato sauce, 1 small can/bottle beer, 1 small package saffron threads, 1 small can sliced sweet pimento and 1 small package frozen petite peas.

Staples: Canola oil, minced garlic, fat free, low-salt chicken broth, salt and black peppercorns.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of 14 cookbooks including her newest, “The Flavors of the Florida Keys” and “Mix ‘n Match Meals in Minutes for People with Diabetes.”

Visit Linda on her web page at or e-mail her at


1/2 cup Valencia-style rice

1 pound skinless, chicken thighs, on the bone

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 cup sliced red onion

1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 cup fat-free, low-salt chicken broth

1 cup tomato sauce

1 cup beer

1/8 teaspoon saffron threads

1/2 cup drained, sliced sweet pimento

1 cup frozen petite peas

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place rice in a small bowl and add water to cover the rice. Let stand while preparing remaining ingredients.

If you didn’t buy skinless chicken thighs, remove skin and fat from chicken. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken on all sides, about 2 minutes.

Lower heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Saute 2 to 3 minutes.

Drain the rice and add to the skillet with the chicken broth, tomato sauce, beer, saffron and pimento. Cover and simmer 10 minutes over medium heat. Add the peas to the skillet. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. A meat thermometer should read 180 degrees. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 585 calories (17 percent from fat), 11.0 g fat (1.9 g saturated, 4.7 g monounsaturated), 115 mg cholesterol, 40.7 g protein, 71.6 g carbohydrates, 7.5 g fiber, 516 mg sodium.