December 30, 2011

Margarita Chicken

This is a great little recipe, which I've only slightly adapted from Cook This! Not That!, and really mostly in terms of adding a few more beans (the two to three tablespoons in the original recipe hardly seemed adequate for a serving), and a side dish of simple red rice.

Now, while the recipe shows you how to easily doctor up a can of black beans (drain, add cumin, heat, add lime juice), if you happen to have some left over Spicy Thick Black Beans, simply use two cups of those, instead - you won't be doing any damage for the extra onion, garlic and pepper in the mix.

Margarita Chicken
Adapted from "Cook This! Not That!"
by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding

Serves 4

Bean Bed
2 cups of black beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
juice from one lime

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 oz. each)
1 cup salsa verde (warmed up, ideally)
1 cup grated Oaxaca cheese
Salt & Pepper as desired
cilantro, for garnish

If you are serving this dish with rice, get it started right away, and you should be able to easily do the rest in the time it takes the rice to cook (unless you're using instant rice, which I can't recommend). A tasty, simple version of red rice is to just add minced onion and a good sprinkle of ground annatto seed, cumin, and a pinch of salt to your regular steamed rice recipe.

Preheat your oven to 450 F, with the oven rack set to the middle. Heat the drained beans in a small saucepan, with the cumin, until thoroughly heated. Add the lime juice and stir through. Turn heat to low (or off), cover and hold until needed. Preheat your salsa in a small saucepan or in a cup in the microwave.

Salt and pepper your chicken lightly on both sides, and sear in a pre-heated skillet until deep golden brown on the first side - about 3 or 4 minutes - then flip over. As it sears on the second side, for another three minutes or so, gently spoon a little salsa verde over each chicken breast, spreading it with the spoon to just reach the edges of the chicken. Sprinkle with grated cheese, and then place uncovered in the oven for about five minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is bubbling.

To serve, spoon a quarter of the beans onto a luncheon-sized plate, and carefully place a chicken breast atop. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro. Add the red rice to the side of the plate, and a couple of slices of avocado, and serve with lime wedges on the side for extra lime goodness. Leftovers work beautifully for lunch - I recommend slicing the chicken breast before stashing it away in the fridge, so it can reheat evenly (and more quickly!). I also deeply suspect that any leftovers, should you be so lucky, would make fantastic burritos. I intend to double the recipe next time, and find out.

The original recipe clocked in, according to the author, at 330 calories per serving. increasing the black beans to 1/2 a cup per serving, and adding a modest amount of red rice (3/4 cup of cooked rice) and even adding a quarter of avocado, raises the meal total to a mere (approximate) 525 calories for the whole meal (roughly 24% of those calories from fat) - absolutely still qualifying as a terrific, healthy dinner.

Quite a few of the other recipes from the book (and its companion publications) are available over at Men's Health.

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