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Saturday, April 2, 2016

One Pot Zesty Chicken Rice with Black Beans

Good evening, dear readers!

Chef Tamtam has made a comeback! After last night's dud dinner, I was looking to redeem myself in the kitchen. That cilantro still needed eating, so it was time to look for another recipe that included the damn thing. I knew chicken would be the perfect accompaniment to the cilantro, since I was tired of just rice. Though I hate cooking chicken because I tend to either vulcanize or undercook it, I knew I had to face this demon of my kitchen because chicken is something I enjoy eating and there will be times where my family will want to eat some. I got some boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which were on sale at the grocery store since I considered them a good starting point.

Though I don't go on it much nowadays, I took a stroll on Pinterest to see if the site had any ideas for cilantro and chicken. Sure enough, there was one recipe that stood out: a one pan cilantro-lime chicken with rice and black beans. I scrolled through the recipe and it looked fairly easy. I had most of the ingredients too.

Time to get to work. Tonight's ingredients for the main dish!

Being the kind of person that I am, I almost never follow a recipe exactly as it's written. I usually have to tweak something about it either to enhance the taste or because it was an experimental whim. I did not have the can of green chilies that the recipe called for, but because we eat chili fairly frequently here, I had plenty of cans of chili tomatoes (tomatoes with green chili peppers already included) that could be used. Also, the recipe called for minute rice, which I did not have. I have brown rice by the bag and a large coffee can filled with white rice, so this would have to suffice.

All set! Everything is chopped and ready to go

I started off as usual, chopping my vegetables and the meat. Since I don't have a kitchen scale, I just guesstimated how much chicken I would need and I used about half the pack of chicken (it weighed in at a little over 3 lbs). I also made it a point to go light on the cilantro, given the overpowering result from yesterday. I washed the rice as usual, letting the bowl sit under the running faucet until the spillover was clear and giving the rice an occasional stir to get the starch up. Finally, I prepared 3 cups of chicken broth, using some powdered stock we keep in the pantry since I didn't have the broth in liquid form already.

Sauteing the chicken. Are you afraid of me?!

Just after adding the beans

I've added the rice and remaining broth at this point

Given my tumultuous history with cooking chicken, I was careful to watch the pieces as they sauteed in the oil over medium heat. I also periodically would break up the pieces and see how pink it was inside. Once I was satisfied with how white the meat was, I added the garlic and onions, letting them saute together. I then added the contents of the chili tomato and black bean cans. I never drain the cans because I think the juices enhance the dish. I then squeezed in the remaining juice from my dried-out limes, dumped the rice in, and added the chicken broth before proceeding to cover the pan and letting the rice soak in the liquid for about 20 minutes. I added the cilantro in at the last few minutes of cooking and let everything sit for a bit before eating.

Tada! All done (note: I have no idea why the image is rendering sideways, even though I took the pic normally. My browser does this sometimes. It's weird and annoying)

My hubby was very pleased with the result. I hadn't overcooked or undercooked the chicken, which was my biggest concern, and the end result was a flavorful blend of tomato and chicken with a hint of cilantro and spice from the peppers. I was proud of myself because now I know I can cook a chicken and cook it well.

Try this recipe out for yourself. I think you'll like it too.

One-Pot Zesty Chicken Rice with Black Beans

1-1.5 lb chicken thighs
4 green onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups of white rice
1 can of chili tomatoes (do not drain)
1 can of black beans (do not drain)
4 limes
3 cups of chicken broth (if using powdered stock, it's 1 tsp stock per 1 cup of water)
1/3 cup cilantro
canola oil for frying
salt and pepper

Chop the green onions and separate the light-colored parts from the darker colored parts, mince garlic and finely chop (or cut) the cilantro. Cut the chicken thighs into small pieces, about an inch in size, taking care to remove excess fat, skin, and bones. Measure out rice and wash until water runs clear, set aside. Prepare broth, if necessary.

Over medium heat, add a spot of canola oil to the frying pan and add the chicken. Saute the chicken until it is cooked all the way through (times vary), adding salt and pepper to taste. Add the light colored parts of the onion first and the garlic, let saute until translucent. Then add the contents of the canned chili tomatoes and black beans. Squeeze in the lime juice and add as much of the pulp as you can. Finally, add rice and pour in the stock. Stir, then cover the pan and let boil for about 20 minutes. Check and stir periodically.

Around the 17 minute mark, add in the remaining cilantro and give a final stir. Cover the pan, let sit for a few minutes until the rice is done and turn off the heat. Let the pan rest for a few minutes, then serve.

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