Lemon Saffron Chicken and Rice


LRM_EXPORT_37199502871015_20200321_213203784Chicken and rice casserole was one of my favorite childhood dinners. This is sort of a grown-up spin, but still very much kid-friendly. Phillie loves it! This dish comes together easily, and is loaded with the beautiful tang of lemon, plenty of garlic, and the unique flavor of saffron. I am a big fan of chicken broth so I make mine on the juicy side. It’s better for bread swooping. If that is not your thing just bake it an extra ten minutes and the rice will absorb more of the liquid.

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 small lemons
  • 1 tsp avocado oil
  • 1 small onion, small diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 T olive oil (optional)
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice
  • 1 scant tsp saffron
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3.5-4 cups of chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Season chicken with salt and pepper.Warm cast iron dutch oven over medium heat. Add the avocado oil and heat, but do not smoke. Sear chicken things, beginning with the skin-side down, approximately eight minutes on each side until nicely browned. Lower the heat if the pan gets too hot. It should not smoke. If the chicken renders too much fat and is sputtering, carefully pour off a little fat, but reserve for your rice. Set chicken aside when it is seared on both sides.
  2. Slice one lemon into 1/4 inch slices horizontally, and remove the seeds. Slice the other lemon in half and reserve for later. Sear the 1/4 inch slices in the dutch oven about one minute on each side. Set aside with chicken.
  3. Turn heat down low, and sweat onions and garlic. Deglaze with the juice of the remaining lemon.
  4. There is likely a good amount of fat from the chicken thighs, but if it seems dry, add the olive oil. Alternatively, if you are using homemade stock, add chicken fat from the top of your stock. Once the fat or oil is heated, add the rice, saffron, and crushed red pepper. Stir. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Add stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Return the chicken thighs and lemons to the pan. Cover with lid, and put it in the preheated oven.
  6. Cook for 65 minutes. If you want less broth, bake it an extra 10 minutes. The brown rice can hold up to the extra liquid without being gummy. Allow to rest five minutes before eating. Adjust seasonings and enjoy!


  • I highly recommend using homemade chicken stock here. I use a quart container’s worth, but there is always some chicken fat with the broth, and some empty space to allow for freezing and storage, so it’s generally about 3.5 cups of actual broth. That extra half cup is not going to hurt though if you’re using store bought.
  • This is delicious with a simple salad served on the side, but it’s also wonderful with greens tossed in at the end, especially spinach and arugula.
  • If you want to make a bigger batch of this, just be sure to sear your thighs in waves so they are not overcrowded. They won’t brown well if you try to sear too many at a time because there will be too much steam.


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