Consider this Chicken Plov recipe, as chances are you’ve tasted some version of this one-pot chicken & rice dish which dates back centuries.
There are times when I yearn to again dine at the haunts familiar to me when living back in New Jersey. Tonight was one such night.
Chicken and rice is a comfort ‘go-to’ no matter where you live and no matter the method of preparation. Apparently, this isn’t only true for today’s home cook, but was also true centuries ago as you’ll learn in tonight’s Chicken Plov recipe.
Traditional Uzbek Plov is a chicken and rice dish steam-cooked in a Dutch oven in broth. The dish is enhanced by the addition of exotic spices, fruits, and nuts.
If you’ve ever had the true pleasure of eating Indian Biryani, East African Pilau, or low and behold, an American Southern Perloo, then I’ve affirmed my statement that you’ve likely sampled some version of the dish I share today.
How This Recipe Came About…
I can go for chicken and rice just about any time. But especially when the weather is cold, I have no problem turning my oven on low and slow for a dish that steams itself and tastes like a million bucks by the forkful.
Traditional plov is that great recipe…that great one pot dish… which begins in a large skillet on my stovetop (or in this case, my Dutch oven) and finishes in the oven. I almost always have every single ingredient listed in the recipe, and frequently mix both chicken thighs and chicken breast meat to satisfy everybody at the table.
The main ingredients for this traditional recipe are few, and they are basic ingredients you probably already have on hand. If ever there was a cooking from your pantry recipe, this just could be it.
My great grandmother Rosa who immigrated to the United States from what is now Ukraine when she was just 18, made a version of this dish. I feel like hers may have been a meat dish using lamb as much as it may have incorporated chicken somehow.
Do You Have What’s Needed To Make This Comforting One-Pot Chicken and Rice Plov Recipe? Check The List!
- Basmati rice, Jasmine rice, or other long grain rice
- boneless skinless chicken thighs
- a large chicken breast
- chicken broth or boiling water
- a large carrot
- a large onion
- heads of garlic
- golden raisins
- bay leaves
- ground cumin
- ground coriander
- Aleppo pepper or chili flakes
- Kosher salt
- black pepper
- olive oil or vegetable oil
What Is Pilaf?
Pilaf is a rice dish that is cooked in a broth. Depending on where it’s being prepared, rice pilaf can be accompanied with meat, fish, vegetables, dried fruits or nuts.
This method of cooking rice is well-known and a method that became popular in the Soviet Union, Ukraine, and Czechia by way of Uzbekistan. Plov’s popularity can be traced back to at least the time of Alexander the Great in the 3rd century BC.
When he visited the province of Bactria, Alexander was served pilaf at a royal banquet. It is said that the soldiers of Alexander the Great then brought the method of preparation of plov to Macedonia as one of their new favorite foods.
A Jewish Connection…
The survival of this chicken plov recipe in Central Asia has a direct connection to the Bukharian Jews, a flourishing Jewish community there for hundreds of years. The Bukharian Jews are Mizrahi Jews whose lineage goes back to the time of King David and the ancient reign of Persia.
During the reign of Persia’s Cyrus the Great, Jews made their way to Central Asia and formed a community where they eventually spoke a dialect of Persian called Bukhori.
Central Asian versions of plov, particularly the Uzbeki variety, are based on the Bukharian Jews method of preparation of plov. Uzbeki plov was later popularized across all Soviet republics and is both the national dish of Uzbekistan as well a well-known dish throughout Russia, Ukraine, and Czechia.
What Is Carolina Pilau or Perloo?
In the Carolinas rice often means pilau (pronounced and oftentimes also spelled as perloo), a combination of meat, vegetables, or seafood, and rice that can serve as an accompaniment to other dishes or stand alone as a main.
Pilau or Perloo as it’s referred to here in Charleston, has its roots steeped in African American history, a very aromatic version brought to the Carolinas by enslaved peoples.
The east African pilau method has heavily influenced the perloo served in the Lowcountry at eateries and fine dining establishments to this day.
Is Plov A Pilaf, A Perloo, Or Some Other Rice Recipe?
Pilau or pilaf has footholds in the ancient and modern worlds of South Asia, Central Asia, Africa, the Baltics, and the Middle East, but tonight, it’s being prepared in YOUR kitchen.
Plov is a pilaf, a pilau, and ultimately, countless cultures master version of a one-pot rice dish that involves meat or fowl.
How To Make Chicken Plov?
Soak The Rice
Begin this dish by rinsing a long grain white rice such as Basmati or Jasmine until the water runs clear. The kind of rice you use for this dish matters, so stick to Basmati, Jasmine, or another long grain white rice.
After rinsing, place rice in a bowl of cold water to soak as you go about preparing the other ingredients. Rinsing removes excess starch and makes for fluffy rice so do not skip this important step.
Set a large saucepan on a back burner and add some rich homemade chicken stock to warm. If you prefer to use water to steam your rice in lieu of stock, that’s fine, too.
In a microwave-safe bowl, add tap water, about a half cup and microwave for 2 minutes. CAREFULLY remove the bowl of boiling water from the microwave and toss in a good handful of golden raisins so they may begin to swell.
Brown The Chicken and Vegetables
I preheat my oven to 350°F and hunt down my Dutch oven. If you do not have a Dutch oven, a deep-sided (at least 3-inches deep and 12-inches across) large frying pan with a tight-fitting lid will also work.
For this recipe, I am using both chicken thighs as well as chicken breasts. If you want to experiment using different kinds of meat such as beef or lamb, do so in equal measure and method to the chicken.
Regardless of the protein you will use, cut into 2 1/2 to 3-inch chunks and season with Kosher and freshly ground pepper. I do about a teaspoon of salt to half a teaspoon of black pepper.
I use my food processor to shred a large carrot or a couple of smaller carrots after I’ve washed and peeled them. Yellow onions are my preferred onion for this dish. Simply peel, halve from the root to the top, and slice each half into very thin moons.
Chicken Plov Recipe – A Comforting One-Pot Chicken and Rice Pilaf
- 3.5 to 5 quart Dutch oven with lid
- wooden spoon
Ingredients for Chicken Plov Recipe – A Comforting One-Pot Chicken and Rice Pilaf
- 2 cups Basmati rice or Jasmine or other long grain white rice
- 3 1/4 cups rich chicken stock homemade if on hand
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 2 1/2-inch to 3-inch pieces
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 2 1/2-inch to 3-inch pieces
- 1 large carrot or 2-4 smaller carrots; peeled and grated or processed until somewhat fine in a food processor
- 1 very large sweet onion or 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup golden raisins swollen in boiling water for 10 minutes, then rough chopped
- 2 heads + 8 to 10 loose peeled whole cloves garlic cut in half across to create a top and a bottom
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper may substitute red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- black pepper
- olive oil may substitute vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Begin by rinsing the Basmati under cool water until the water runs clear. Fill the bowl with the Basmati with water to soak. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, add the rich chicken stock and heat it over medium low heat. Keep warm while preparing the plov.
- Arrange the cut 2 1/2-inch to 3-inch chicken thigh and chicken breast pieces on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Salt with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Over medium-high heat add oil into the bottom of a large Dutch oven, about 3 tablespoons. Brown the seasoned chicken thigh pieces on each side, then remove using a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Next, brown the seasoned chicken breast pieces on each side, careful not to cook through and dry them out. Remove using the slotted spoon to the same large bowl as the browned thigh pieces. DO NOT WIPE OUT THE DUTCH OVEN.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the onions and carrots to the drippings in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Generously season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the vegetables appear visibly softened, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika, and Aleppo pepper to the onions and carrots and sauté for an additional minute.
- At this point raise the heat on the simmering chicken stock and bring to a boil.
- Drain the soaked rice. Add it to the vegetables and aromatics. Sauté for 1-2 more minutes, until the rice is well coated in the mixture. Add the browned chicken pieces to the rice mixture. Add the individual cloves of garlic and the rough-chopped swollen raisins and give everything a good stir. Nestle the halved heads of garlic cut side up along with the bay leaves into the rice before pouring the boiling stock over the entire ensemble, making sure everything is submerged by at least 1/4 to 1/2-inch of the boiling stock. If necessary, add liquid (boiling water or additional boiling stock) 1/4 cup at a time to achieve the correct measure.
- Cover the Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Place into the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven to an oven pad or wooden board on your counter and allow for the final steam/rest, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and fluff the rice. Use a large serving spoon to add heaps of the pilaf to wide shallow bowls for serving. Use an olive pick to remove the roasted garlic cloves from the heads and serve with the rice. Offer oven-warmed naan and a vegetable side dish if desired.
Garlic is a must in this dish in order to deepen the flavor profile of the rice. I use a big kitchen knife to hack whole garlic heads right in half. I also like loose garlic cloves tossed in throughout the rice to flavor as the rice cooks. This is optional but a very delicious intention in the finished product.
Getting down to the nitty gritty, over medium-high heat, drizzle a healthy dose of olive oil or vegetable oil into the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Brown the seasoned chicken thigh chunks on each side, then remove using a slotted spoon and set aside.
Follow with the chicken breast chunks browning only, but not cooking all the way through. Spoon out the chicken breast pieces and add them to the same bowl as the chicken thigh pieces.
Lower your stovetop to medium heat add the onion and carrot. Generously season with salt and pepper and sauté until you can see them visibly softening. Add a fragrant mix of aromatics beginning with ground cumin, coriander, paprika, and Aleppo pepper to the onions and carrots and sauté for an additional minute.
At this point, the chicken stock warming on the back burner should be nice and steamy. Turn the heat to high and bring the stock to a boil.
Assemble The Dish To Be Baked
Drain the large bowl of rice that you’ve soaked. Use the back of a wooden spoon to scrape all of the wet rice grains from the bowl and add to the vegetable and aromatic spice mixture. Sauté until the rice is well coated in the mixture.
Add the chicken pieces to the rice mixture. If using individual cloves of garlic to intersperse throughout the rice, add them now and give everything a good stir. Drain the raisins and give them and quick chop and stir them in, too.
Snuggle the garlic heads cut side up along with the bay leaves into the rice before pouring the boiling stock over the rice and chicken mixture, making sure everything is submerged by at least 1/4 to 1/2-inch of the boiling stock. If necessary, add liquid 1/4 cup at a time to achieve the correct measure.
I bake the plov in the Dutch oven, covered tightly, for 50 to 60 minutes. Once removed from the oven, I leave it sit, covered, on the counter for an additional 10 minutes.
When the lid is removed, the aroma of the spices and the golden brown hue that’s developed on the head of garlic overtakes my senses. I fluff the mixture just before spooning healthy portions into shallow bowls.
Modifying The Norm To Make It Not Entirely Average…
Today’s share teaches this recipe using chicken. But as I referenced in my intro, this dish may be assembled with most any kind of meat, including lamb or beef.
Also, and because I feel the golden raisins offer so much flavor to the dish, consider other dried fruits and even nuts. Chopped dried apricot, dates, and toasted pine nuts are all mouthwatering options to build on this rice dish.
How To Serve Plov?
Ultimately, a Chicken Plov recipe is a complete meal in one pot. If I had to choose anything to serve alongside this dish, I’d make it a vegetable side such as Sweet and Tangy Carrots, Brown Butter French Green Beans with Toasted Pecans, or Beets Sautéed in A Lovely Tarragon Brown Butter Sauce.
I also like warmed naan served alongside this Chicken Plov recipe. Simply stack the naan and wrap it in aluminum foil and heat in the oven during the last 5 to 8 minutes of oven time. Remove and cut in half right down the middle.
Can I Freeze Plov?
Plov freezes and reheats very well. I do this often with this dish if I have too much leftover, placing individual portions in freezer-safe containers with tight-fitting lids.
Frozen, plov can go for up to 3 months. To thaw, simply place in your refrigerator overnight.
To reheat the dish, transfer the contents to a lightly buttered casserole dish and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of water. Cover with heavy gauge aluminum foil and place into a 350°F oven for 20 to 30 minutes depending on how much you’re reheating.
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