French Onion Chicken and Rice is a spin-off the Stick of Butter Rice recipe already here. That rice uses beef consomme and french onion soup, and I wanted to find a way to turn it into a full meal, especially since it always takes an hour.
I focused on the French Onion flavors in the rice and decided to add the gruyere that’s standard in the soup along with some chicken, because why not?
As you should already know by now, I LOVE ONIONS. I mean I love them. I literally get a little offended when people say they hate them. Like, how?! And is it raw onions, cooked onions, all onions? Onion powder? I’d argue that if you can stomach any one of the aforementioned you are not an onion hater.
All of that is to say: the caramelized onions are optional.
When you’re layering the caramelized onions on top of the rice, try to keep them centered. You’ll want the chicken breasts and shredded gruyere to completely cover the onions. This is very important! Any exposed caramelized onions will burn while they bake – the oven is on 400°F after all.
This meal is pretty heavy, I’m talking instant Itis, so I always serve it with an arugula salad with mandarin oranges and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The flavors go well together and add some much-needed freshness.
I chose Provolone to stuff the chicken breasts because it’s mild and melts very well. You can use Swiss, more Gruyere, or skip stuffing the breasts altogether.
There’s a video on IGTV of me making this – sans onions – and if you make this recipe I hope you’ll come back and let me know what you thought of it! Here’s a graphic for your Pinterest board, before you go:
At least a few hours before you’re ready to start on dinner, prep your chicken. Use a sharp paring knife to butterfly, or cut pockets into the side of each breast. Either is fine, just make sure not to cut the breasts in two pieces.
Place the chicken in a sealable container and add the olive oil, all-purpose seasoning, dried thyme, balsamic vinegar, and 1 tsp of garlic powder. Use your hands to massage the oil and seasonings into the chicken, making sure to hit the innards you sliced it open to get to as well. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, up to overnight.
To make the caramelized onions place a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and oil.
When the fat is shimmering add in your onions and toss to coat in the oil and melted butter.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and let cook, stirring frequently. After about 15 minutes add the sugar and salt. Continue cooking – and stirring – for another 15 minutes. After a while, they may begin to stick to the pan and when they do, you’ll transition to cooking them longer and then scraping them from the bottom of the pan and flipping more than stirring. Pay attention during this part so they don’t burn – you might need to reduce your heat even further.
Continue until the onions are a deep dark brown. It usually takes me around 45 minutes to get the color and texture I want. Once they are ready, turn off the heat and stir in the beef broth to deglaze the pan. Remove the onions to a heat-safe container to rest.
Preheat your oven to 400°F and spray a large baking dish with nonstick spray. I like to use an enameled braiser, but a 9×13 baking dish would work fine, too.
Pour your rice, the canned soups, and all of the remaining seasonings into the baking dish and stir to combine thoroughly. Arrange the slices of butter all over the top of the rice and liquid, covering as much as possible.
Cover the pan tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
While the rice is baking, place a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Take the slices of provolone cheese and stuff them inside the chicken breasts. It’s alright if they stick out a bit – this is a pretty rustic looking meal and it adds character.
Drizzle in a bit of oil to the preheated pan. When it’s shimmering add your chicken breasts in a single layer. Don’t crowd the pan, go in batches if you must.
Let the chicken cook undisturbed for about 4 minutes so it can get a nice sear. Flip over carefully – don’t disturb the breasts too much or the cheese might shift out.
Cover with a lid and allow to cook on the opposite side for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow it to rest. We don’t want the chicken cooked through because it’s going in the oven.
When the rice has cooked for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven and remove the lid or foil.
Spread a layer of caramelized onions over the center. Use as much or as little as you like and be sure not to extend the onions too far towards the edges.
Arrange your chicken breasts over the top of the caramelized onions. Try to cover the onions completely. Exposed caramelized onions will burn during the second bake so be thorough.
Sprinkle the Gruyere evenly over the top of the chicken, then place everything back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes. The liquid should be completely absorbed and the cheese should be browned.