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26 July 2006

Fiesta Chicken and Rice (Cooks Illustrated)

Fiesta Chicken and Rice

Serves 4

This dish is good on its own but even better with some accompaniments. Test kitchen favorites include warm flour tortillas, sliced avocado, minced jalapeƱos or a few dashes of hot sauce, sour cream, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Table salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup long-grain rice
1 onion , chopped medium
4 cloves garlic , minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
1 green bell pepper , chopped medium
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup shredded Mexican-style cheese
4 scallions , sliced thin

1. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook chicken until golden brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to large plate, leaving fat in pan.

2. Add rice, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are sizzling and toasted and onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes (reduce heat if rice browns too quickly). Stir in garlic, oregano, chili powder, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, green pepper, and broth and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle chicken, browned side up, into rice and pour in any juices accumulated on plate. Cover skillet, reduce heat to low, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes.

3. Working quickly, transfer chicken to cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Stir rice, replace cover, and continue cooking until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Slice chicken breasts into 1/2-inch pieces.

4. Remove skillet from heat. Arrange sliced chicken on top of rice and sprinkle with cheese and scallions. Cover and let stand until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Serve.