The recipes in Cook’s Illustrated are always well-tested, reliable, and finicky -- sometimes annoyingly so. The recipe for “Latino-Style Chicken and Rice (aka Arroz con Pollo),” from the September 2006 issue of Cook’s Illustrated, called out to me with its use of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, green olives, capers, jarred pimentos, and a Dutch oven. Sure enough, this recipe produced a very thick stew, full of tasty chicken. I did learn a lesson about brown rice, however…

The recipe calls for medium-grain rice, which I did indeed use. My rice was brown, and this is a detail that cannot be overlooked. Brown rice needs twice as much water and needs twice as long to cook. Instead of using distilled white vinegar, I used white wine vinegar, without any problems as far as I could tell. Cook’s Illustrated is a notorious proponent of instant-read thermometers, and I admit that using a thermometer to cook meat emboldens me with a guaranteed confidence. My chicken thighs reached 175 degrees in 20 minutes (instead of 30 minutes), but my brown rice needed much more time, as I said. So I removed my chicken pieces from the Dutch oven, and allowed to rice to continue cooking.

Finally, I added 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper to my combined stew. I enjoyed the “sloppy” presentation, pulling the meat off the bones and mixing it all in. This satisfying stew gave me what it promised: salty, tangy, stewed happiness. I just needed a lot more time to pull it together.

Now here’s a question we should all ask ourselves: “What do I do when I have extra buttermilk and butter in my refrigerator?” Really. You should remember to make the “Black Pepper Biscuits,” from the September 2009 issue of Bön Appetit. Biscuits have always been the product of an easy, forgiving dough (no yeast here), and the tasty rewards are great. It’s wonderful to have a heap of soft, buttery biscuits sitting beside your savory dish. You’ll feel quite artful with these, as you brush them with cream and sprinkle them with black pepper before they go into the oven.

Bone-in, Skin-on Chicken Thighs (3.54 lbs.) = $7.69
Onion (1) = .69¢
Green Bell Pepper (1) = .44¢

RECIPES: chicken and rice are as beautiful as they should be, fortified by buttery biscuits
a stew made with brown rice will need two hours to cook; biscuits need only 15 minutes in the oven
garlic, chicken thighs, cilantro, green olives, capers, pimentos, and lemon kick all the right taste marks; I can’t say enough delicious things about the buttery biscuits

Next time, I want to cook the “Tuscan Bean Soup,” from the May 2010 issue of Saveur, from a story exulting the splendors of olive oil, along with the “Caramelized Onion Tart,” from the May 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times, where I’ll get to indulge in ready-to-bake pizza dough. See my meal when you come back to my site on Friday, July 2.