This Baked Chicken Rice casserole is an old fashioned recipe of how we cooked this simple dish back in my native country. In Albania we call this Tave Pule Me Oriz.
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Old Fashioned Recipe
My native country of Albania is known for its hospitality. People will welcome you in their homes and share their bread with strangers. The rice & chicken bake dish is one of those dishes that was cooked for big celebrations or for when you unexpectedly had guests drop by.
Traditionally the dish was cooked with a whole chicken. However, for this recipe I used chicken drumsticks since I happened to have 2 packages.
As economy has gotten better and people have more means, this recipe has gotten many face-lifts. A lot more ingredients are added to it thus making it an even better dish. However, given the times we are living right now (quarantine 2020) I thought of presenting this dish in an old fashioned way. Less ingredients, less fuss. See notes though for some tips on how to spruce it up if you have more ingredients available:)
Recipe Notes & Tips
I would love to share some notes and tips in this section as well as ingredient substitutions or additions.
- I season the chicken with paprika and oregano. You can also use dried thyme, parsley, rosemary or any seasoning of your choice.
- You can use a whole chicken, chicken thighs or chicken breasts for this dish. However, I prefer bone in chicken for this dish as it makes it more flavorful.
- If using whole chicken, you can boil it whole but then cut it in pieces before baking.
- Also, if using other chicken cuts please make sure you cook them accordingly. Drumsticks take less time to cook.
- Lemon adds great flavor to this dish. If you have lemon, squeeze half and add it to the tray before you place it to bake. Use the other half when you season the chicken. Sprinkle over chicken drumsticks then coat them with seasoning.
- You can add green peas to the baking tray. Usually I’d replace half a cup of rice with green peas. Add any other vegetable to your taste as needed. Be mindful of tray volume, mine was almost full once rice finished cooking so I know that if I need to add something else I have to lower the amount of rice I’m using.
- If you have baked or cooked the chicken prior as part of meal planning for the week, then you can add chicken stock to the tray to bake the rice and add chicken in during the last 10 minutes. It won’t taste as good as when it is all cooked together but it is still a good substitute.
- If you don’t mind a bit of extra work, you can fry the chicken for a minute or two in a butter coated skillet before you add to the baking dish. It gives an amazing taste to the skin, it helps keep it a bit crunchy on the outside but soft and juicy on the inside.
Process Pictures for Baked Chicken Rice Dish
See below some of the pictures I took during the process of cooking this recipe. It helps put the steps of the recipe card into perspective.
While the chicken is being cooked, saute in a skillet with butter onions and garlic.
Once onions become translucent and start shrinking in volume, then add 4 cups of rice. Stir occasionally so rice doesn’t stick as well as you coat slowly all the grains.
Then add rice to the tray you’ll use for baking this dish.
Remove chicken from pot. Season it with oregano and paprika (lemon too if you have it). Add to baking dish and arrange it in a symmetrical shape. Add stock, butter and salt if needed. Then bake!
Baked Chicken Rice
- Baking dish
- 10 chicken drumsticks
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 tsp peppercorn
- 8 cups water
- 4 cups rice 1 cup rice is about 225 grams
- 1 onion (medium size)
- 4 garlic cloves add more if you like garlic taste
- 5 tbsps butter unsalted
- 2 tbsps oregano, dry
- 2 tbsps paprika
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- 1 lemon (optional)
- Make sure chicken is thawed before you start cooking.
- Add chicken drumsticks to a medium size pot, add water, salt and peppercorn. Set to boil, then lower heat to medium. Cover the pot. Once water boils, let cook for 15-20 minutes. Turn heat off.
- Add 4 tbsps of butter in a skillet. Chop onion very fine and mince garlic. Add onions and garlic to skillet and saute until onion becomes translucent. Stirr often so onion cooks evenly and doesn't stick to the skillet.
- Add rice to skillet and continue mixing occasionally. You want all rice to get coated and become shiny without browning. Pour this mix into the baking tray and spread evenly.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (about 180 degrees Celsius)
- Remove chicken drumsticks from pot. Season the drumsticks well with paprika, oregano and a little more salt. You can fry them in butter for a minute just to give the skin that crispy look (the frying part is optional). Place them in the baking dish over the rice.
- Use a ladle to take the chicken stock from the pot and fill a measuring cup. Add exactly 8 cups to the baking dish. If there's not enough chicken stock then add the remaining cups just water. Keep the ratio 1 cup rice, 2 cups water (or stock).
- Make sure salt content is ok at this point as it is hard to add once the dish has cooked.
- Add remaining butter over chicken drumsticks, just coat them a little bit.
- Place baking dish in the oven carefully. Let bake until all stock/water has evaporated (it can take 30-40 minutes depending on oven). Once there's no more water in the dish, change oven setting to broil for few minutes, then turn it off and let the dish cool. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.
- Garnish with freshly chopped parsley! Serve with a side salad of choice. Enjoy:)
- Amount of salt is a bit tricky. If you are cooking chicken yourself, I suggest adding the salt to the pot where you’ll boil chicken. If you are using a combination of chicken stock, salted butter and water then you might have to do a little test of flavor then add salt as needed (before baking). Once you bake it and water evaporates it’s hard to add more salt.
- TBSP – Tablespoon
- TSP – Teaspoon
- Make sure you pick a tray big enough to handle 4 cups of rice cooked by volume. Otherwise cook a bit less. This tray as shown in pictures is about 2 meals for my family, sometimes even a bit more depending what side salad I use. Leftovers hold really well in the refrigerator for few days. I never froze the leftovers so I don’t know how it holds frozen.
- Lemon – not everyone is a fan of lemon in this dish so that’s why I’m adding this ingredient as optional. It’s very traditional to add it in the Mediterranean. I usually squeeze half the lemon and add it to the baking tray evenly before placing it to bake. I use the other half over the chicken drumsticks before I season them.
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More Chicken Recipes
If you would like to see more Chicken recipes from my blog, please check out the below posts: