Yay, it’s the weekend! Normally, I’m all about trying out new recipes and crazy cooking adventures on the weekend, but I have a number of leftovers in the fridge that I needed to finish. Earlier this week, I made a bunch of basmati rice to have with falafels and red lentil curry (during different meals haha), and despite eating a bunch of it, I had about a cup left. I’m a bit particular about my rice–gotta have the right grain with the right meal! I know that sounds over the top, but really, longer grains of rice tend to be a little drier while shorter grains absorb more liquid so it’s more moist. It’s not crucial per se, but I personally think it enhances your dish more when you have specific rice types with different meals.
Anywho, I had a cup leftover and didn’t have anything particular planned to serve with that rice. I wanted to catch up on my reading, so I wasn’t in the mood to cook anything elaborate. Rice pudding is always an option, but I wanted something for a meal rather than just a snack. Congee ended up the perfect dish for my predicament! Congee, a rice porridge, is super easy to make and doesn’t take that much fuss. I could let it simmer away as I immersed myself in a novel. I also had a piece of chicken that I had taken down from the freezer to make something the other day (but got too lazy to make), so I figured this was the perfect way to use it up too.
This chicken congee is similar to the one my mom made for me as a kid whenever I got sick. Nice and light, super easy, and absolutely delicious! Depending on how much time you have, you can cook this longer than 3 hours (on a nice, even simmer), which gives the porridge a silkier texture. I, however, didn’t want to spend more than 3 hours, so I added a tiny smidgen of cornstarch (a trick I learned from a friend!) to the congee to give it a nice finish. It’s a bit of a cheat move, but it works if you don’t wanna spend 5 billion years cooking. You can exclude it if you want–the congee will still taste great!
To cook with:
- 1 cup cooked rice (I used basmati)
- 2 (14.5 oz) cans reduced sodium chicken broth
- 3 cups water
- 1 chicken thigh
- 1 tsp corn starch (optional)
To serve with:
- 2-3 sprigs cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 green onion, roughly chopped
- ground white pepper
- Chinese donut, cut into 1″ pieces
- Bring 1 cup cooked rice, chicken broth, and water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Once it has come to a rolling boil, turn down the heat to a medium low and cover the pot with a lid so the steam can still escape. Mixture should be at a good, steady simmer. Give the pot a stir every 20 minutes so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom. Keep an eye out for your pot–you don’t want your porridge to boil over (and it will if it boils too hard!).
- Cook for about 3 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when you see that the grains of rice are broken up into tiny pieces, and the broth is a little thicker. If it gets too thick at any point, you can always add more water.
- About 2.5 hours in, add the chicken thigh and allow it to cook in the congee for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, pull the chicken and slice into 1/4 inch slices.
- After 3 hours of cooking, your congee is ready! If you’d like to add the cornstarch*, mix 1 tsp of corn starch with 2 tsp of cold water, then stir it into the congee. Add salt to taste (I didn’t find it necessary).
- Ladle the congee into a bowl and top with chopped cilantro/green onion mix and Chinese donut pieces. Enjoy! 🙂
What are your favorite ways to use up leftover rice? Let me know below!