Comfort food for a cold day

My mother used to fix chicken and rice. It was plain and simple, chicken, cooked and shredded, and white rice. She may have added peas or celery for a bit of color. It was seasoned with salt and maybe pepper but not much. It was good on a cold day or a day when I wasn’t feeling good. It is my idea of comfort food.
Now I make chicken and rice, but the colors and variations are a bit brighter. I usually use brown rice with one exception. We’ll get to that in a bit.
I start out with one large or two small boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I put it in a stockpot with enough water to cover it. It can be frozen or not. If i am going in a particular culinary direction, I will add some seasoning here, it might be curry, or a bay leaf and thyme, or wherever in the world I am thinking about. The chicken gets simmered on low until it is cooked through or nearly so then gets pulled out of the cooking water (chicken broth now, now you see where I was going here) and put on a plate to cool.
I have a rice cooker so I use the directions for it to cook the rice. I usually follow the directions to make 2 cups of cooked rice to feed two. Some brown rice needs rinsed and some doesn’t so I usually rinse it whether it needs it or not. Put it in the cooker and fill with the broth you just made by cooking the chicken to the proper amount, adding water as necessary. Brown rice takes at least one and a half times the amount of liquid to cook as white rice. If I am going the Asian route, I will add some saffron and a kaffir lime leaf while it’s cooking, otherwise I might add another bay leaf and some salt.
When the rice is nearly done, I might add a handful of frozen peas to the top and let them cook quickly.
The chicken gets shredded on the plate it is sitting on when it’s cool enough to handle.
When the rice is done, it gets put in the saucepan the chicken was cooked in with the chicken to make sure everything is warmed through. You can add any variety of cooked vegetables for color and to round out the meal.
Serve and enjoy!

Now for the white rice variation:
Mexican yellow rice
(Courtesy of 1000 Mexican Recipes by Marge Poore)
2 T vegetable oil
1/2 tsp achiote seeds, also called annato
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 medium clove of garlic, minced
1 cup long grain white rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper freshly ground
1/2 cup cooked fresh or frozen peas

1. In a small saucepan, heat the oil and cook the achiote seeds until the oil is a rich golden color, about 1 minute. Strain the oil into a large saucepan and discard the seeds.
2. Heat the oil over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add the rice and cook about 3 minutes. Stir in the broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 18 to 20 minutes until the rice is tender and water is absorbed. Remove pan from heat and scatter the peas on top but do not stir. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir the rice with a fork to fluff it and stir in the peas. Serve hot.
When I cook the chicken for this one, I will add maybe some garlic powder or cumin to the pot. The shredded chicken gets put in when it gets the peas stirred in to make sure everything is hot.

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