Chicken and rice sounds pretty simple, hey? It is. But its worth and meaning to us both isn’t quite so simple. This now iconic meal was the beginning of our Yiayia Next Door community. It provided both of us with the comfort, support, nourishment and love we desperately needed after we tragically lost our beautiful mother in the very house we now call our own.
Luke and Daniel say…
Next door lives our very own angel, Yiayia (grandmother in Greek). And this was the first dish she gifted us after our mother passed away. Yiayia had been neighbours with our mother’s family for decades, but this simple and nourishing plate wrapped in foil was the start of a new friendship. Since that day, she’s taken us under her wing and regularly sends food around. We’ve become a family.
When we are asked which is our favourite meal from Yiayia, our answer is always chicken with rice. Other than being perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of salt and pepper, this recipe brings us back to our very first over-the-fence interaction.
Yiayia whips this up effortlessly, as she has been making it for quite some time for her family, and now for her newly adopted grandchildren: yours truly. The chicken is almost always falling off the drumstick, and it is only ever purchased from the local chicken shop at the Preston Market. The combination of onion and rice goes hand in hand, and as the chicken is so tender it’s great to pick off the meat and mix it all in so you can enjoy the flavours together.
We hope this recipe provides you with the inspiration to be the angel next door to your own family and friends. Yiayia’s identity remains a secret at her request, but she shows how anyone can help someone in need.
Kotopoulo Me Rizi (Meat and Chicken Rice)
- 6 chicken drumsticks
- 200g (1 cup) medium-grain rice
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Pinch of salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
Wash and pat dry the chicken drumsticks, then transfer to a large saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to the boil over high heat, then immediately reduce the heat to a very low simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes, occasionally skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.
Remove the chicken drumsticks from the pan and strain the stock into a bowl, reserving 500ml (2 cups). Pour the stock into a 25cm x 20cm baking dish, then add the rice, onion and oil – and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
Place the poached drumsticks on top of the rice, then return to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes, until the chicken is lightly golden and cooked through and the rice is tender.
Divide among plates and serve.
Photo by Mark Roper