clay pot chicken and vegetables with brown rice

i’ve been obsessed with clay pot cooking (more like eating) ever since i took my first bite of clay pot chicken at the corner vietnamese restaurant during my freshman year in college. whenever my friends and i wanted to treat ourselves to a good meal away from the cafeteria (which was quite often, come to think of it), we headed there and ordered it before we even looked at the menu. i had never tasted vietnamese food before, and this delicate combination of flavors and textures was such a welcome surprise to my taste buds! as i remember it (unfortunately the restaurant is no longer there), the dish combined different mushrooms, fish sauce, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and cilantro with fragrant jasmine rice and tender chicken. these ingredients were slowly steamed together in a small clay pot to create an intoxicating combination of aroma and flavor. it could have been that we were simply hungry students with cafeteria food as our other option, or maybe it was as delicately delicious as i remember it. when i came across this blue clay pot at the store a few days ago, i had no choice but to bring it home—today i made my version of a clay pot chicken with brown rice flavored with kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk, and the resulting dish was good enough to share:)
ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 1 cup brown rice, parboiled 
  • (cooked until just tender with 2 cups of water for about 20-25 minutes until water is absorbed)
  • 2 organic chicken breasts, cubed * for vegetarian option omit chicken and reduce baking time to 30 minutes-you may also substitute chicken with sprouted organic cubed tofu)*
  • 2 small red bell peppers, cubed
  • 10-12 mushrooms, cubed
  • 1 small onion, cubed
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 3-4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2-1 cup light coconut milk
  • 3-4 tbs soy sauce *(braggs aminos for gluten free)
  • 1 sliver fresh ginger, thinly sliced or minced (about 1 tsp)
  • 2 tsp unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • 1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3-4 thai peppers, thinly sliced (spicy)
  • a few sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • 5-10 baby roma or cherry tomatoes, sliced (optional)
1. in a small wok or medium sauce pan quickly stir fry together with the heated oil (combination of both oils) on high heat: minced garlic, onions, red peppers, mushrooms, peas, ginger, and sliced thai peppers until tender for about 5 minutes. add the lime leaves and most of the soy sauce and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
2. add par boiled (almost cooked) brown rice to the clay pot (or dutch oven), then add the cooked vegetable mixture and mix well with the rice.

 3. add the cubed uncooked chicken to the rice and vegetables and combine to distribute evenly, then pour the coconut milk and remaining soy sauce with a touch of sesame oil over the rice and chicken combination. stir everything together carefully, then cover firmly.

4. bake in a 350-375 degree preheated oven for about 45 minutes. you won’t believe the aroma when you remove the lid! carefully remove the lime leaves and sprinkle with cilantro leaves and sliced tomatoes before serving.

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