Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday encore ~ Hungry Rancher-Woman Chicken

I posted this recipe originally in July 2009. Since I'm still making it almost every day, I figured it was worth repeating.

Now we all know that this is not a food blog. You will find no recipes here. I'm an eater, not a cooker, and I'm also a kitchen slob. I would be embarrassed to show you any meals in progress for purposes of gastronomic instruction. But today, I'm making an exception, because it's Friday Favorites and Hungry Rancher-Woman Chicken is my favorite dinner. Some might say it's my only dinner. I make it, or some in-bred cousin of it, several six times a week. And on the seventh day, she ate a salad. How boring is that?

But here's the thing. Hungry Rancher-Woman Chicken works for me on so many levels. It's easy and quick to make. It's satisfying and explodes with flavor. I know exactly where to find the ingredients in the super Walmart. It's a relatively healthy dish, and economical, too. And there are endless variations on the basic recipe theme. And since it's my kitchen and I don't see anybody else around here volunteering to cook for me, I'll do what I dang well please and eat the same dadgum thing night after night if I want to. Maybe I should call it Ornery Rancher-Woman Chicken?

And besides all that, a new recipe/food community site was launched this week by Pioneer Woman called Tasty Kitchen. If you haven't checked it out yet, go forth. It's full of real recipes from real people, and it's all free. Cookbooks? We don't need no stinkin' cookbooks. We can swap our best recipes over there. I want to contribute something to the site, and this will be it.

So without further ado...

Here is everything you'll need: instant rice, frozen orange juice concentrate, boneless, skinless chicken thighs, an apple, and curry powder.

Make your minute rice first and get that out of the way. Make as much or as little as you want - I won't judge. This recipe will serve one very hungry rancher-woman with a ravenous appetite or two normal people. We'll be serving the chicken over the rice, so the more rice you make, the further this recipe will stretch.

Now it's time to cut up your chicken thighs. My secret to not getting into a violent argument with my chicken thighs is to chop them up while they're partially frozen. If I go at 'em when they're thawed, they're gross and slippery and raw-meat-like and they make me want to be a vegetarian, and then I wouldn't know what to make for dinner.

I cut the block of partially frozen chicken thighs in half, then chop it up into bite-sized pieces. Half of the chicken goes into a ziploc bag for tomorrow's dinner, which will take five fewer minutes to prepare. Have I mentioned that this dish can go from zero to the table in about 20 minutes?

Heat your pan on high, then give it a healthy squirt of cooking spray. I always use this heavy wok, but any old pan should work. When the pan is nice and hot, dump in the chicken and put a lid on it. DO NOT STIR the chicken yet. Let it get brown on one side first, then stir it.

While the chicken is cooking, peel and core an apple, then chop it into bite-sized bits. I use a Granny Smith apple, only because I think I heard that these were good for cooking, but I could be wrong. Use any kind of apple you want.

Back at the pan, your chicken should look sort of like this - brown and cooked. Turn the heat down to medium. The chicken cooks pretty fast and smells really good.

About this time, your dog will come into the kitchen to investigate the aroma and hope that you spill some of the chicken on the floor. Fat chance, Smooch.

When the chicken looks almost fully cooked (should take about 8 minutes), dump in the apples, stir things around a bit, and put the lid back on. Reduce the heat to low. The apples will cook quickly.

Now we're going to make the spicy orangey sauce. Mix together one or two tablespoons of orange juice concentrate with some curry powder. How much curry powder? That depends. I love curry powder, so I use about a tablespoon. Less adventurous souls may want to start out with a teaspoon. Add a little water to the mixture so you'll end up with about 3/4 of a cup of sauce.

Are you wondering where I found curry powder for $1.49 in the middle of nowhere, New Mexico? Not at the Walmart, that's for sure. Why are spices so darned expensive anyhow? Anyway, en route to the Walmart, there's a large Mennonite community, and one of the families runs a little market full of bulk baking supplies and spices. And that is where I find curry powder for $1.49.

So now our apples are almost cooked through.

Add the sauce to the pan, stir until all the chicken and apple pieces are coated, leave the heat on low, and put the lid back on.

Put your dog in charge of keeping an eye on things in the kitchen while you go set the table or feed the horses or whatever. This recipe is very forgiving. You can eat it a couple minutes after you add the sauce or an hour later.

When you're ready, spoon the chicken mixture over the rice and take it out to the front porch. This dish tastes best if you eat it while watching your horses graze, your burros play, and the sun set.

Hungry Rancher-Woman's what's for dinner tonight, and tomorrow night, and the next night, and the night after that...

Hungry Rancher-Woman Chicken
Half of a 1.8 lb package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 - 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
1 - 3 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 cup water
Instant rice

Cook as much rice as you want to eat. Heat a heavy pan over high heat and squirt with cooking spray. Add chicken. Add a little salt and pepper if you're so inclined. Do not stir until one side is brown. Cook until done – about 8 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and stir in apples. Cook for a few more minutes until apples are soft. Combine oj, curry powder and water, then add to pan and stir well. Continue to cook on low for a few more minutes until flavors are combined.

Here's the link to this recipe over at Tasty Kitchen.


  1. I've tried this recipe and I like it ... very tasty, and quite easy to make.

    Love your wok!

    Poor Smooch ... she's like, "All I want is a little taste!"

  2. I bet this would be good with other seasonings, too, since I'm not a huge curry fan (childhood story in that comment).

    Tandoori, maybe?

    Will have to give it a try for sure. I'm always into something that practically makes itself for dinner. :)

  3. Cool! Not something I think I'd like, but I'll give it a try. Neat placemats, btw.

  4. I have to be a rancher-woman to cook it? how 'bout just a wanna-be-rancher-woman :)

    I'll make it this week for sure!

  5. That looks really good! I love curried dishes and haven't made any in a while. I could leave my cat watching the stove, but she'd jump on top to watch it close up.
    Oh, my WV is joins - I think that means I'm going to join you at your table watching Hank and the burros....

  6. hmm I think i know what I am having for supper tonight, thanks

  7. Thank you for the rerun post - somehow I had missed this one! Wow this looks good! I'll definitely have to make this sometime, I'm sure I'm the only one around here who will eat it. So I'll name it "starving cowgirl lunch." LOL

    I love the Mennonite bulk food stores - you can find great buys for all kinds of stuff!

    And I LOVE your placemat and napkin! Though I can definitely agree that it's great to eat outside and watch nature. :)

  8. Don has a mental block or some weird thing about chicken thighs. He won't eat them. So I had to make this with chicken breasts and I think it just wasn't the same. I'm going to have to try it with thighs one night when Don's away. :)

  9. Hey, this sounds like "something a Sweet Man who has had a rough day might like to have for dinner". And especially "a tired grandma who would like to chop up the grands and serve them to their mom could prepare quickly and head out the door". I can hardly wait to give him the recipe title. Thanks for sharing the dad gum recipe. You're so funny.
    I'm tellin ya Smooch is a patient pup just like our Odin.
    Good dog.

  10. Yum! I'm going to have to go to the store so I can make some this weekend! Poor Smootch...I know how she feels...I'm just lucky I can't smell it cooking too!! :D

  11. Yum. I think I'm going to make this, this weekend.

  12. You need to get yourself a crock pot or slow cooker and I'll give you my recipe for Authentic Cowboy Beans (made with whiskey). Mix up a mess a them and feast all week. Add a simply cooked chicken breast, steak or pork chop. Or just wrap in a tortilla. Instant meal.

  13. Even I could make this! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Seriously? You eat this almost every night? Wow, you're a consistent lady! Maybe I should ship you a lobster, or two.

    It looks yummy only I'm not a big fan of curry. Maybe I could replace it with a different spice. Hmm...

    Smooch looks famished! Don't turn your back for a second!

  15. "...they're gross and slippery and raw-meat-like and they make me want to be a vegetarian". I LOL'd at that, because I feel the same way about chicken--or any meat--in general, but especially chicken. I avoid chicken because I dislike "dissecting" my food.

    I'll keep in mind from now on the idea of handling it while frozen and I'll have to, because I love curried anything, and this is one recipe I absolutely have to try. If I take extras for the barn manager, I'm sure they won't mind my bringing it out to the boarding barn to eat while watching my horse graze. :-)

  16. It sounds really good. I'm always looking for a new recipe for chicken that's easy to make. I hate to cook. But unfortunately, my husband likes a meal once in a while. Thanks I'll give it a try.

    I'm sure my two dogs will have that sad 'I'm hungry' look when the aroma hits.

  17. Yummy! I make a cold version of this, more like a curried chicken salad. I will have to try this one....

  18. It not only sounds great, it looks absollutely Scrumptious. I can see why you would eat it every night. YUM, YUM, YUMMMY!