Scarlett's Chicken and Rice Recipe | PBS Food

Scarlett’s Chicken and Rice

Simplicity is actually very hard to pull off. There are some recipes you just don’t mess with. Check Vivian’s blog for a sad tale of one such incident.


Yield: 6 servings



  • 1 large chicken left whole (best case scenario, this would be an old tough bird/laying hen)
  • cool water to cover
  • 1 yellow onion (peeled and split)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups white rice (mom swears by Uncle Bens, I like Carolina Gold)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter


  1. Put your bird, the split onion, thyme, and bay leaf in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Cover the bird, just barely with cool water. Add 2 Tbsp. salt and 2 tsp. black pepper to the pot. Cover and bring it all up to a simmer. Cook for about an hour or until the bird, in my mom’s words, is “falling to pieces.” If this is a typical young chicken this should not take any longer than an hour and a half. If it is a laying hen, it could take up to 5 hours. I know that is crazy, but a hen will provide a much better broth.
  2. Once the bird is “falling to pieces” turn off the heat and let her rest in the broth for 30 minutes. Remove and reserve the bird. Discard the onion, bay leaf, and thyme. Tear the chicken meat into medium pieces and add it back to the pot. Bring the broth and the chicken up to a simmer. Add the rice. If you are a rice rinser, resist the urge here, as the starch helps make the broth homey and rich. Cook the rice for about 12 minutes, depending on the variety or brand the time could vary. The rice should be just cooked through and should absolutely hold its shape. Turn off the heat. Add your butter. Taste for seasoning and adjust with additional salt or pepper.

Nutrition Info

I like to add a little lemon juice for balance, but my mom would never approve of this behavior.
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