Plov is an aromatic, traditional rice pilaf dish with origins from Uzbekistan, and it is no surprise that plov is the Uzbek national dish. It is a rice pilaf containing succulent meat; lamb, beef, or chicken. Cooked with long grain rice, sweet carrots, onions, and herbs and spices, it’s sure to be a real tasty treat.
Plov is traditionally prepared in a large kazan (or cauldron) over fire, and is made in a large quantity to feed many guests. The ideal plov should contain succulent juicy meat, fluffy rice, sweet carrots and onions, and the perfect amount of herb and spice.
Since most of us do not have a large kazan laying around, we can instead use a cast iron skillet or pan. While we can agree that all food tastes better cooked over an open flame, it isn’t always the most practical way of cooking in today’s busy world. So take out one of your favorite pans and let’s get cookin’!
Now let’s talk about rice. I don’t know about you, and it may sound a bit silly, but in my younger years I truly struggled with cooking rice. That’s because my mom would always make the fluffiest rice dishes and as a teen I would cook only to my dismay to realize the rice was heavy and starchy. Now, I know there are two tricks to achieve fluffy rice.
Trick number one is to wash out the rice thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly. You want to wash out all of that sticky starch that makes rice heavy and clumped together. The second trick to achieving fluffy air light rice is using the right type of rice to begin with. My absolutely favorite rice to use in not only plov but pretty much any rice dish excluding risotto, is basmati rice. You can literally fail to rinse it and it will still turn out absolutely airy and fluffy! Other long grain rice will also do the trick in plov, but there is something extra special about basmati rice.
It’s important to use fresh ingredients here because old carrots that have lost their sweetness simply won’t do. To elevate the taste of plov you must use fresh ingredients- carrots, onion, and meat.
The recipe I’ll share with you today is for chicken plov. My parents used to cook plov with beef chunks initially, but later switched to using chicken and rarely switched back to beef. We all loved chicken plov more, or perhaps it was just a different taste than we were used to. Whichever meat you choose to use, I guarantee if you follow these steps your plov will be to die for!
What You Need:
6 chicken thighs – cubes
1 red onion – chopped
6 carrots – peeled and grated
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
McCormick beer can chicken seasoning
Chopped garlic (optional)
I get started by heating up a tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp of butter in a pan. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Toss in the chopped onion and cook until translucent. Now you may add the optional garlic. Some folks like it, others don’t. I find that garlic adds aroma to almost any dish, so I personally love it.
Now add the cubed chicken thighs and season with Weber Beer Can Chicken, salt, black pepper, and Vegeta seasoning. The beer can chicken seasoning has been a staple in our home since I really got into cooking. It’s a rich flavor, without being too over powering or spicy. Another seasoning I love by Weber is the Kick’n Chicken; a bit on the spicy side. If you want to add a small kick to your plov, by all means use that!
I prefer chicken thighs to chicken breasts due to juiciness. We want to avoid dry meat in our plov because, well nobody likes dry meat! I advise browning the chicken a bit, and then cooking through. We’ll finish up in the oven so the chicken doesn’t have to be entirely cooked.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the rice. Rinse out basmati rice thoroughly, and cook by using 1 1/2 cups of rice to 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, add salt. Once the rice is done, transfer it into a casserole dish. Add carrots to chicken and onions and season again. Don’t forget to try the food as you go. I know that once you add the sweet carrots, you’ll usually need to add a bit more seasoning. You may add additional olive oil and/or butter if the mixture is sticking to the pan or browning too quickly.
Now I’d mentioned that we’ll finish up the plov in the oven. We add the chicken carrot mixture to the rice and mix it all together in the casserole dish. Cover with foil and then bake it at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. I like to do this so that all the ingredients marry, even though the ingredients are already mostly cooked. ￼
A LOT of people I know prefer to cook the rice in the oven in the casserole dish with the chicken mixture. I understand that this shaves off the step of cooking the rice, and you can do it this way too. Heck, it’s probably easier this way and you have one less dirty pot to wash after. However I believe my preference to cooking the rice separately stems from my rice cooking trauma and failure in the past! There’s no feeling worse than opening the casserole dish and seeing rice that is too clumpy, or worse- under cooked!
My parents used to cook the chicken mixture the same way. But when it came to the rice, they skipped my step and added the rinsed rice to the bottom of the casserole dish, topped with cooked chicken and carrot mixture, and filled with boiling hot water to the top of the casserole dish. They would then season the water, mix ever so slightly to ensure the salt spread out evenly, cover with foil and cook it in the oven for about one hour. It always came out perfect, so you may try this if you want to skip the extra step of cooking the rice separately.
Since plov is the STAR of the dinner, the main course, I like to add a few extra special dishes to the table that really mesh well with it. Olivier salad is an outstanding side dish and adds tartiness and freshness to the meal. You can make my Olivier salad recipe here!
You don’t need to stop there; baby dill pickles, Russian sausage, slices of cheese and other small treats can be served alongside this chicken plov. If you find that you’d like to add a sauce to your chicken plov, I highly recommend adding a bit of sour cream to each bite! It is divine! Feel free to play around with different seasonings if you wish, and see which meat tastes best for you- chicken, beef, or lamb. You really cannot go wrong with plov, as there are so many variations that exist, and each of them is uniquely delicious! Enjoy!