Giada De Laurentiis Shares Her Aunt Raffy’s Quick and Easy Chicken and Rice – With a Kick

Giada De Laurentiis
Giada De Laurentiis | Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Looking for a speedy but satisfying meal idea for dinner?

Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis’ Aunt Raffy has just what you need and it’s a recipe you most likely have all the ingredients for in your pantry and freezer.

Turns out, Giada De Laurentiis, like every other busy parent and professional, likes to keep weeknight dinners nice and easy.

Aunt Raffy’s Chicken and Rice Recipe

De Laurentiis’ Aunt Raffy’s Chicken and Rice calls for butter, chicken tenders, a diced red onion, garlic cloves, basmati rice, milk, low-sodium chicken broth, thyme, sage, Parmesan rind, frozen peas, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. (For exact quantities, see recipe here.)

The chicken is sautéed in the butter until brown and then set aside. Onions and garlic are then added to the same pan and caramelized.

Here is the twist to Aunt Raffy’s recipe: she calls for the rice and the Calabrian chile paste to be added here. Made from dried chili peppers, the paste gives this recipe a whopper of a kick.

If you don’t have Calabrian chile paste or don’t want your dish too spicy, you can use regular tomato paste with dried chili peppers to taste.

Now add milk, chicken broth, thyme, sage, and Parmesan rind. Return the chicken to the pan with the rice and other ingredients on low for 15 minutes. When that time has passed, turn off the heat, add your frozen peas and let them steam in the pan for ten minutes or so. Once you remove your thyme and sage sprigs as well as the Parmesan rind, dinner is done!

Who is Giada de Laurentiis’ Aunt Raffy?

RELATED: The ‘Most Annoying Question’ Giada De Laurentiis Gets Asked

Raffy, whose real name is Raffaella, is the sister of Giada’s mother Veronica. Raffy and Veronica’s father was Hollywood producer Dino De Laurentiis, who gained fame for films including King Kong, Barbarella, and Hannibal.

Like her father, Raffy is also a film producer, behind such films as Conan the BarbarianConan the DestroyerDunePrancerDragon: The Bruce Lee Story, The Forbidden Kingdom, and Kull the Conqueror.

Giada is a big fan of her aunt’s and of her accomplishments as a woman with a hard-won career, as she told Parade in 2014.

“I watched many women in my family not have a lot of independence,” she said. “She made a real career for herself and that was very alluring. I thought, ‘That’s the kind of woman I want to be.’”

How De Laurentiis handles prepping for her busy weeks

Giada De Laurentiis, as a single mom, has to keep food prep easy for her week. In a 2016 conversation with Fox News, she explained her secret to easy weeknight dinners in her home.

“I think that planning is everything,” she said. “I try to plan out meals as much as possible. On Sundays, when I have a little more time, I prep for the week.”

De Laurentiis explained that she cooks a pasta with no sauce or dressing on it and refrigerates it. Then she prepares a protein, whether chicken or pork or steak – again no dressing – and refrigerates it separately from the pasta. Finally, she does the same with vegetables and refrigerates those as well.

“Then, on the weeknights, I pull those ingredients out and transform them into whatever dish I want.”

That’s smart cooking!