As I was thumbing through my overstuffed but mostly unconsulted recipe book looking for party foods this week, I happened upon the Chicken Mareno recipe I made for a "bring food day" in high school French class. It was large and complicated, involving two whole chickens and several steps. Too much for a weeknight dinner, but I got a craving for the flavors it involved. Inspired by the chance to put a dent in my dinner rut, I decided to shoot for the same effect in a quick, easy, staple-using version. The result was colorful, tasty, and the kids who actually eat real food ate it all up, much to my surprise. I wish I'd taken a picture! I served it over brown rice, so it was also a pretty healthy, low-fat dinner. Yeah, yeah, I know you think you don't like brown rice, but it's good! Just try it. It tastes great with this recipe.
This made 4 good-sized servings plus two kid-sized, but you could easily increase that by adding another chicken breast and can of tomatoes and adjusting the seasonings a little. Oh! This also gave me a chance to use some of the fresh herbs growing in my new courtyard herb garden, but you can easily use dried or whatever you have on hand.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into about 1-inch cubes
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 cup garbonzo beans (I used half a can because I'm skittish, but you could use more or less)
1/2 cup green olives, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp capers, optional
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
dash white wine or vermouth if you have it
1/2 cup to a cup chicken broth (I'm telling you, keep a box in the fridge to use as needed)
sea salt, red pepper, dash of turmeric if you have it (gives it a pretty and authentic-looking yellow sheen), fresh herbs like parsley, oregano, thyme, or a little dried of whatever similar you have on hand.
Start your rice cooking. I used 2 cups uncooked brown rice in a rice cooker, which took about 45 minutes.
In a large, deep-sided skillet or Dutch oven, heat a Tbsp or two of olive oil and brown the chicken. Add garlic and sautee for about 30 seconds. Add wine or vermouth if using (vermouth is just shelf-stable, fortified wine--you didn't know that, did you?) and/or chicken broth and stir a minute until slightly reduced. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and all remaining ingredients EXCEPT fresh herbs if using. Simmer, covered, over medium heat for 20 minutes or until rice is done. If using fresh herbs, you should always wait to add them in the last 5 minutes or so of cooking, because high heat destroys their flavor. Serve over rice (pasta would work too).
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