Skillet Chick'n & Mushroom Rice

Dinner in my house growing up was a rotating series of options. We would cycle from one meat to the next - Chicken, Steak, Pork, Chicken, Burgers, Sausage.... and a very occasional fish. I believe this to be pretty common for my generation, especially in rural New England where people of European (especially Eastern European) background are the majority. The meals generally revolve around a land-based protien, a starch and a vegetable.

Particularly in the 80's & 90's, semi-homemade quick and easy meals were very popular. It seemed that every day there was a new variety of cheez-whiz, cool-whip, pizza-bagel, hot-pocket or other ready-made, hyphenated, short-cut showing up in the center aisles of the supermarket. But there's one time-saving prepared food that showed up on the shelves over 100 years ago: Campbell's Soup.

In my house, one must always be sure the shelves were stocked with a variety of these items. We had a cupboard just for cans. A quarter of it was canned soup - especially Campbell's. Because not only could you pop a can open and have lunch in minutes, but you could cook with it too.

One of the dishes on rotation in my house was pork chops cooked in mushroom rice. My mom actually used another popular item - the counter-top electric skillet. The reason for electric skillet's existence escapes me, but my parents found it quite necessary. She would season and brown the chops, and then add Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, water, instant rice and a packet of Lipton's beefy-onion soup mix.  45 minutes later: the ultimate set-it-and-forget-it semi-homemade meal.

Today I live in a city and time where fresh whole food is the norm. I also live in, and run, a household that rarely, almost never, cooks meat. Pork actually makes me sick now, literally. But every now and then it's ok to go back to these delicious, satisfying, time-saving tricks from our parents. Timeless Campbell's soup can liven up vegetarian food too! (But beware of the low-fat soups - they are made with chicken broth).

I recently decided to pull this old skillet rice recipe from the far reaches of my memory, and adapt it to fake meat. I started with Gardein Chicken Scallopini instead of pork, and of course I skipped the beefy soup mix and just seasoned it on my own. Unfortunately I only had brown instant rice on hand, which might be healthier, but I found it not nearly as devourable as white rice in this recipe. Creamy sauce lends itself to white rice.

Still, overall, it was quite delicious. My only problem is that it's just not a pretty dish, and was very hard to photograph.

Skillet Chick'n & Mushroom Rice
4 Servings

1 package (4 pieces) Gardein Chick'n Scallopini
2 T olive oil
Salt & Pepper

1/4 C onion, diced
1-3/4 C water
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper 

2 C instant rice

1. In a deep skillet, sauté scallopini in olive oil over medium heat until browned - about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Add onions to the skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 C water and scrape up all the bits from the pan. 

3. Add remaining water and condensed soup. Bring to a boil and stir until the liquids are well combined. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt & pepper. 

4. Add rice and stir in. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Place chicken on top of the mixutre and cover. Simmer 10-15 minutes, making sure rice is completely covered in liquid (give it a stir halfway through). It may take longer if using brown instant rice.

5. Meanwhile, cook bacon strips to package directions (microwave about 1-1/2 minutes). Serve chicken and rice with bacon crumbled over the top.


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