Cheap and Chic: Holiday Chickens and Rice

This meal is affordable and easy yet looks beautiful and tastes sensational when it comes to the table.


  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, such as parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, chopped
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
  • 2 large chickens (4-5 pounds each)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup white wine

For the Rice and Mushrooms with Watercress:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 1/2 pounds crimini mushroom caps, quartered
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup orzo pasta or broken bits of thin spaghetti
  • 1 3/4 cups long grain white rice
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup chopped hazelnuts or walnuts
  • 2 bunches watercress or upland cress


Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.

Mix the garlic and herbs with the softened butter and spread evenly under the skin over the breasts of the birds. Season both chickens with salt and pepper. Coat a large roaster pan with EVOO and set the birds in skin-side down. Add 1 cup wine, cover the pan with foil and roast for 45 minutes. Then turn and roast birds breast-side up for an hour and 15 minutes more. Remove the foil for the last 20-30 minutes to crisp the skin. Let the meat rest before carving.

An hour before serving, heat 1/4 cup EVOO in a medium size pot over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and brown deeply, 20 minutes or so, then season with salt and pepper. Remove the mushrooms to a plate or bowl and reserve.

Add the butter to the pot and melt. Add the orzo pasta and brown until nutty and fragrant. Add the rice and stir; add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat and cook for 16-18 minutes.

Toast the nuts in a small pan over medium heat. Fluff the rice and mix in the nuts and mushrooms. Toss together with the watercress just before serving alongside the chicken.

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Rachael Ray