Portuguese Chicken and Rice served by a lovely South African woman in the middle of the Caribbean Sea to a bunch of Americans…it really is a small world after all.
I first had this dish 15 years ago on a sailboat in the Caribbean. This amazing chef had us salivating over every meal, but this one was so memorable that here I am, re-creating it this many years later. Isn’t it cool that your brain can remember something so small as one meal after so long? Or maybe I just have an unnatural fixation on food. Oh dear. Do YOU remember stuff you ate years ago, or is it just me?
That’s the beauty of going on vacation. Our day-to-day grind just sort of blends together, and usually days don’t really stand out much. Vacations are different. We step out of our real world for a moment and step into a new culture, new language, new people, new food.
For a few days, we get a glimpse of someone else’s “normal.” That man making steamy corn tortillas on the street corner, the nose-ringed teenager who polishes shoes for passersby, the trio that fiddles Vivaldi in the town square, surrounded by pigeons, and the woman who makes Portuguese Chicken and Rice in a teeny tiny sailboat kitchen…these are THEIR lives, day after day, week after week, but to those of us who have traveled far to witness them, they become part of that exotic, intoxicating vacation memory, to be conjured up later as we ride the bus to work, do laundry, run carpools.
I’ve never been to Portugal. It’s on my list. But I have tasted Portugal, at least in my mind. It’s made of chicken, roasted peppers, mushrooms and green olives. Funny thing is, when I taste Portugal, I think of the Caribbean.
Portuguese Chicken and Rice. Can’t you just hear those steel drums beating?
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 5 cloves garlic
- 4 boneless chicken breasts *See notes
- 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 cup white wine **See notes
- 1 cup roasted red peppers
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives (or your favorite green olive)
- Zest of one lemon
- 2 cups cooked rice
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Chop onion and sauté about 5 minutes.
- Slice mushrooms and add to pot, along with minced garlic cloves.
- Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to pot. Brown chicken on all sides.
- Add thyme and white wine. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until wine reduces by half.
- Add peppers, tomatoes and chicken broth. Simmer until sauce has reduced and thickens.
- Slice green olives and add to dish. Sprinkle with lemon zest.
- Serve over rice.
*You can substitute chicken thighs for the breasts. Adjust cook time accordingly. Thighs will take a little longer to cook. (Internal temperature on both thighs and breasts should be 165 degrees.)
**We used Chardonnay. We also tried this with cooking wine and it was a completely different taste. You can make it with either, but using real white wine gives it a rich, nutty flavor that you can't get by using cooking wine.