Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'm Calling it Mexicali Chicken and Rice

I took a whole week off work during Christmas break. I don't think I cooked a single meal between Dec. 26th and New Years Day. I had really good intentions. I did. I also had a bunch of restaurant gift cards. You do the math.

So I'm back to work and back to cooking dinner. Today was scheduled for those Buffalo Chicken/Bacon/Ranch wraps that we love, but I saw a recipe somewhere (not sure if it was email, Pinterest or where) and it sounded so good so I decided to bump the wraps in favor of something that can both thrill and terrify my family: New Recipe Night.

It is important to know that I refuse to buy things that I won't use up before it expires, or even worse, ever use again period. If I can't think in my mind where to find it at Macey's, I won't buy it. If I have never, ever heard of it, I won't buy it. If it requires a mid-week grocery store run, I won't buy it. This leads to a fair amount of substituting and improvising. Sometimes it works better than others.

So since I don't know what tonight's recipe was supposed to taste like, I have declared my substitutions/improvisions to be perfect. And who's going to argue with me? Exactly.

It is also important to note that this recipe exceeded my 30 minute meal rule (not by much) and required grilling (meaning Lane had to help. I'm not allowed to touch the BBQ). And I'm not sure what to call it since it isn't the same as the recipe, which means I am free to call it whatever the heck I want to. I'll have to think on that for a minute.

So here we go.

I started last night by marinating the chicken. It was supposed to be a store-bought marinade, but as I stated before that would require a mid-week grocery run. I also prefer to make my own stuff, whenever possible. So this is actually a fajita marinade, and I had almost 3 pounds of chicken to do:

1/2 c lime juice
2/3 c water
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c soy sauce
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 t salt
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t ground black pepper

The recipe says to marinade for at least 2 hours. Grill the chicken.

While the chicken is grilling, start the rice.

2 T butter
2 c long grain rice (not instant)
2 T dried onion flakes
1 pkg taco seasoning
4 cups chicken broth
1 8 oz can of tomato sauce

Melt the butter, and sear the rice in the melted butter for a minute or so. Add the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. (Why did I write that? Everyone knows how to make rice on the stovetop, right?)

While the rice is cooking, start the cheese sauce.

2 T butter
2 T flour
1/4 t salt
1 c milk
1 c shredded cheese

Melt the butter. Blend in the flour and salt very, VERY well (stir constantly for at least a minute). Add milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in melted cheese.

Next time I make this sauce, I will add some canned green chilis. I think that would add tremendous flavor. And maybe a dash of tabasco as well.

To serve: place rice on the plate, top with grilled chicken. Drizzle cheese sauce on the chicken and top with chopped tomatoes or pico.

ALWAYS use pico if you have a choice. And you do have a choice. Pico is super easy. I didn't have any green onions, so again, you improvise. All food of this genre MUST. HAVE. PICO. It's just a rule.

One more Christmas project. I made this for my neice, and aside from the fact that I clearly can't sew ruffles in a straight line, I totally love it. I'll be making one for myself soon.