Why tray bakes work
I am weird about textures. If a food has a weird texture that I don’t like then I just won’t eat it. And this is how my life has been with brown rice. People will rant and rave “it’s so healthy” and I just think – yes, and I lose more calories chewing it than I actually get from it. Difficult to chew; a healthy food does not make.
However, I was in the shop tonight and saw a blend of this wacky red rice and wild rice and I really was debating buying it. But then I realised I would have to buy the whole packet and then boil it for ages and I am too lazy to take a risk like that. Also, I have a cold and reaaaaally the motivation is on the floor. But then – low and behold, there was the Tilda microwaveable rice that is in a portion of 2, that was brown and wild rice. 162 calories per serving, I could handle one bad meal if I had to throw it out (that being said I clearly didn’t as I am writing this now). The big question is – how to make it bearable. So I decided if I really cooked the rice until it had thought about it’s life’s choices it would give up the texture and be edible. Thus! A tray bake! Cook something, then cook it a bit more, and put it into a tray and bake. As well, unfortunately for my readers, I have figured out a way to make brown rice that I actually like and so more brown rice dishes may be in the cards (yes, that is foreshadowing! I have already written them, the question being, when will they be posted! Stay tuned, or don’t)
Yes, this is also an oil-free meal.
As I mentioned above this dish is really low-calorie so if you want to add some pizzaz I suggest:
Bacon – make sure that you fry it well and that it is really crispy before adding it in
More broccoli – yes, I know I mentioned it before
Carrots – I didn’t have any to add tonight, thus none in the menu – but do boil them first
Peas – if you use frozen peas add them in frozen right before the oven so that they don’t over cook
Chicken thighs – they aren’t that much higher in calorie, and will need to have a bit more of a cook, but they will also be nice
White rice – that would be nice
Aborio rice – now you are just pushing the boat out! That being said – I do think that it will soak up the juices nicely and you can probably add a bit more milk
Butter – now just stop! But yes, butter would be great and really make it creamier – granted, there isn’t really any sauce with it at the end.
Mushrooms – I think I am just getting creative now and realising I could make other recipes with this…
Calories per serving: 387
Chicken, Broccoli, Brown and Wild Rice Tray Bake Recipe
- 205 g chicken breast - chopped into chunks
- 6 broccoli florets - you can add more, but I didn’t realise my tray could fit more. However, 6 is an OK number, this is pretty filling
- ½ cup chopped onion - again I used frozen. This really makes life easier when cooking for one. As well the excess water helps to not need oil. Yeah! Double points
- ¼ cup celery - I used chopped. I also used frozen. I find that I never need the full amount of celery that comes in a packet. I just chop it up (into small chunks) and stick it into the freezer. This is great because you can just grab a handful and throw it into anything that is soup-like or casserole-like. It also breaks down the fibres so you don’t have to cook it as long.
- Tarragon - season as you wish
- Chervil - ditto
- Thyme - ibid
- ½ tsp mustard powder (I have exact measurements as I have learnt the hard way about not measuring
- 2 tbsp garlic puree paste - because I am lazy
- 1 chicken stock pot - not the bouillon cube… because I was out. But this works REALLY nicely, it was the garlic and thyme flavour
- 250 g microwave brown and wild rice - i.e. it is already cooked. You may cook your own rice, but do make sure that it is 250g when cooked, and that it is cooked pretty fully. Yes, I used Tilda.
- 2 bay leaves
- 150 mls skim milk (I am trying to eat healthier - thus there is only skim milk in my fridge. However, this is a rather low-calorie meal so you can totally go nuts and put in whole milk. Keep in mind the calorie amount will be more).
- Step 1 Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius or 356 degrees fahrenheit – I think 350 will be fine.
- Step 2 Chop your chicken. You can be super lazy and get the chicken breast fillets and then just cut them once. Stick this into a non-stick pot cover with a lid and put on low. Throw in the onion and celery, and let the water stop them from sticking to the bottom. Cook it for a little bit – 5 mins (you really don’t want to get the chicken cooking, but to just defrost and get some water). Add the seasonings and the flavour pot. Stir, crank up the heat, and add the milk. Bring this to the boil and put in the broccoli, and the rice and stir.
- Step 3 Add the mixture into about a medium sized casserole dish. The 8 in pyrex is what I used, and I am really only guessing that it is about 8 in. Use your brain and if it doesn’t fit, don’t use it.
- Step 4 Cover with foil and put into the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and put it back into the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes. You want to boil off the majority of the juice and have cooked chicken. The top will be mildly crispy. Let this stand for a further 7 – 10 minutes (depending on how patient you are feeling). However, the longer it stands the more juice gets absorbed by the food.