Chicken, Caramelized Onions and Rice

This chicken, onions and rice recipe from Smitten Kitchen was on my radar for a while, but it took someone in one of the foodie newsletters saying it was the best thing they cooked all year, to prod me into finally making it. It takes a bit of time, but it’s a one pot dish. Serves 4:

Chicken, Buttered Onions and Rice

  • 4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 3 large) yellow onions, diced into 1/2″ pieces
  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice, any variety
  • 1/4 cup white wine (optional)
  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups chicken broth

Arrange chicken skin side up on a plate and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper (you can do the undersides while it browns).

Heat a large sauté pan, with a lid, over medium-high heat for one minute. Once the pan is very hot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter, and heat for another minute. Arrange chicken skin side down and cook until deeply brown underneath, about 4-5 minutes. Don’t crowd the chicken; depending on the size of your pan, you might need to do this in two batches. Once browned, flip the pieces over and brown on the second side–about another 3-4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Leave the pan with the juices on medium-high and add 2 tablespoons butter. Once melted, add the onions and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Cook the onions for about 15 minutes total, or until golden throughout and darker brown at the edges, stirring every couple of minutes. When the onions start to brown, reduce the heat to medium for the remaining time. Carefully taste and season with more salt, if desired, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Remove 1/3 cup of onions and set aside.

Add thyme leaves and rice and cook with the onions for 1 minute. Add the wine, if using, and cook until it disappears, about 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the pan sides, pushing any rice and onions back to the bottom. Return the chicken thighs to the pan skin side up. Carefully pour broth around chicken, 1 ¾ cups if you used wine, 2 cups if you didn’t. Bring the pan to a simmer then reduce to the lowest simmer and cover. Cook rice and chicken together for 25 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Off heat, rest the dish for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Scatter with reserved buttered onions and enjoy!

My Verdict:

This was really tasty but took quite a while to cook. You really need to give the chicken time to brown, the onions time to caramelize and the rice to cook. I’m still on the world’s longest learning curve, with my induction cooktop, so that might have figured into it.

We’re lucky here to have the world’s frozen food mecca, Picard, so I just bought a bag of frozen, diced onions, saving time, peeling, and dicing onions. Some mushrooms, sliced and browned with the onions, could be a nice addition.

This will definitely go on rotation, it’s a one pot comfort dinner.


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