Cook the Book: Chicken and The Usual Suspects

One of the things I pride myself on is being prepared when dinnertime rolls around. There is hardly ever an evening when I'm staring into an empty fridge without a plan, or even worse, frantically scrambling to get something on the table.

But every once in a while my day slips away and the preparedness goes with it. Recently I came home to one of these dreaded situations—shopping and cooking were not high on my priority list. Fortunately Roger Ebert's The Pot and How to Use It plus a well-stocked pantry came to my rescue.

With cooking instructions that read, "put all the ingredients in the rice cooker and cook until done," Chicken and The Usual Suspects is quite possibly the least labor-intensive recipe in The Pot and How To Use It, and after opening a few cans and dicing chicken thighs, dinner was well on its way. Since I wasn't feeling particularly productive, I spent the time it took the pot to work its magic to speculate on which ingredients represented the various actors in this cinematically titled dish—would Kevin Spacey make a better artichoke or a marinated mushroom?

But back to the recipe. The sweet stewed tomatoes worked beautifully with the salty, brined and cured components, creating a wonderful sauce for the chicken thighs, and adding a small layer of rice to the bottom made for a built-in starchy element completing the plate. With barely any prep time, only a few dishes to wash, and an entirely satisfying dinner on the table, the only thing left to do was figure out which movie to watch after dinner—maybe I should consult Ebert...

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Pot and How to Use It to give away this week.

Adapted from The Pot and How to Use It by Roger Ebert. Copyright © 2010. Published by Andrews McMeel. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Cook the Book: Chicken and The Usual Suspects

About This Recipe

Yield:6 to 8


  • Rice (cover the bottom of the Pot about a half inch)
  • Boneless chicken thighs, skinned, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Black olives, pitted, to taste (the nice ones if you can)
  • Pearl onions to taste
  • 1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts (use the liquid, too)
  • 1 small jar roasted red peppers, sliced if you like
  • 1 small jar capers, drained
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes, drained
  • 1 small can marinated mushrooms (use the liquid, too)
  • Vegetable stock, enough to submerge everything (can be cut with water)
  • A few bay leaves
  • Optional: Red pepper flakes to taste (to spice it up if you like that)


  1. 1

    Put all the ingredients in the rice cooker and cook until done.

    Note: Feel free to substitute fresh vegetables for canned/jarred if you like. Be sure to add Italian dressing (or similar) to add flavor if marinated artichokes/mushrooms are not used. Just be sure to season it somehow.


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