Wash the rice throughly under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain in a sieve and set aside.
Rinse the chicken, pat dry, and remove and discard the skin if you wish. Use a cleaver to separate the legs and thighs and chop each drumstick and thigh in half. Chop the whole breasts into quarters.
For the browning stage, it’s easier to use two pans. We suggest that you use a large heavy skillet and the large heavy pot you will be using to cook the whole dish. Put both pans over medium heat and when they are hot, place half the bacon, including a little fat, if any, from the Canadian bacon, in each. When each pan is well greased with melted fat, add half the onion to each pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining Canadian bacon and the chicken pieces, dividing them between the two pans, and fry until the color of the chicken has changed, 8 to 10 minutes, turning the chicken and bacon as necessary.
Transfer the skillet contents to the large pot, then add the water, herbs, salt, and pepper. Bring to a vigorous boil. Skim off and discard any foam. Sprinkle in the rice, bring back to a boil, and stir briefly. Cover, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for 20 minutes.
Lift off the lid, wrap it in a tea towel or cotton cloth, and replace it. Remove from the heat. Let stand, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
Serve on a platter the traditional way, with the rice on the bottom and the chicken and bacon (cut into smaller pieces if you wish) on top. Discard the bay leaf and herb sprigs if you wish.
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