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Rice gets new life in curried skillet meal

This image shows a recipe for curried chicken fried rice. Milk Street via AP

Freshly cooked rice is delightfully tender and fragrant, but not the best choice for fried rice due to its soft, moist texture. In this Nigerian-inspired curried meal-in-a-skillet, we use plain, chilled cooked rice so the grains “fry” up light and fluffy.

The recipe, from our cookbook “Milk Street 365: The All-Purpose Cookbook for Every Day of the Year,” seasons the rice with curry powder, dried thyme and a handful of aromatics. Beef liver and an assortment of vegetables are classic ingredients, but we opted for chicken thighs and green beans.

We start by seasoning the chicken thighs with salt, pepper and curry powder, then sauté them in hot oil until evenly browned. The chicken then is pushed to the side, and an aromatic mixture of scallion whites and fresh ginger is added, along with green beans, jalapeño chilies, thyme and more curry powder.

Start to finish: 40 minutes

Servings: 4 Once the green beans are bright green, the cooked, chilled rice is added and the pan is deglazed with chicken broth. Don’t be afraid to really scrape up the browned bits from the surface of the skillet after you’ve added the broth. The caramelization gives the rice great depth. Fragrant basmati is especially good, but any type of long-grain white rice works.

Curried chicken fried rice with chilies

Start to finish: 40 minutes. Servings: 4

3 tablespoons neutral oil or refined coconut oil, divided

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 teaspoons curry powder, divided

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens reserved separately

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

4 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 Fresno or jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced

4 cups cooked and chilled long-grain white rice, preferably basmati

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the curry powder, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned, 4 to 6 minutes.

Push the chicken to the perimeter of the pan. To the center, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, scallion whites and ginger; cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1½ minutes. Into the scallion mixture, stir the beans, thyme, half of the chili, the remaining 1½ teaspoons curry powder and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir the chicken into the bean mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are bright green, about 2 minutes. Stir in the rice, then add the broth and scrape up any browned bits. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes.

Off heat, taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the scallion greens and remaining chili.

This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for curried chicken fried rice. (Milk Street via AP)

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