Thursday, July 16, 2009

Quick, Affordable Meal Solution: Adobo Chicken, Mexican Rice, and Steamed Veggies

I made this meal for dinner last night and there was enough for leftovers tonight! The authentic Mexican Rice dish is how my family made it when I was a kid. So, this is the real deal! No box rice-kits in this house! This meal is really easy and it can be on the table in about 30 minutes.

The trick is to cook the chicken under the broiler in the oven, but grilling the chicken works as well. I used chicken thighs because I had them on-hand.

Buying chicken thighs is more affordable than skinless chicken breasts. For example, I buy organic chicken and the price for 1-pound of chicken thighs is about $2.99 per pound versus $4.99 per pound of chicken skinless breast.
This price is an example, but in general, chicken thighs are more affordable. I've said before on the blog that I buy my meat from a small shop in Northern Indiana and they use only local meat so the prices are better than buying them in the city (see my previous post for buying healthy ingredients on a budget).

I served this with steamed green beans, but also try broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, or if your grilling the chicken, try throwing zucchini squash on the grill at the same time. Grilled squash is so good and you're not washing more dishes! Go for the veggie that looks fresh and in-season that day at the market. In-season produce is more affordable because it usually comes from more local sources and it's more abundant!

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbs Adobo Seasoning (I prefer Penzey's - includes cumin, oregano, Chile, and other Mexican spices). Use a mix of cumin, Chile powder, and oregano to substitute.
  • Olive oil (enough to coat the pan)
  • 1 cup white rice (I prefer Jasmine)
  • 1-14 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (go for the jar for quick use)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pound fresh vegetable such as green beans, broccoli, zucchini
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Defrost chicken thighs. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray for the chicken. Sprinkle chicken thighs on both sides with adobo seasoning.
  • Preheat medium to large saucepan on medium heat. Chop onion.
  • When saucepan is heated, drizzle with olive oil and add onion and minced garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes and add rice (without adding liquid). Keep the rice moving with a spatula in the saucepan.
  • While rice is cooking, clean the vegetables and add into your steamer basket. I use a saucepan with an steamer basket insert (it looks like a double broiler). Vegetables will be ready in 10-15 minutes. Check with a fork and stir while it is cooking. Cook until fork tender and the vegetables are vibrant and not falling apart to the touch.
  • When the rice is golden after a few minutes, start to add liquid. Open the can of tomatoes. Drain the liquid into a measuring cup and add water until it is 1 cup. Then add an additional 1 cup of water (for 1 cup of rice, you need 2 cups of liquid). Add tomatoes, 1/2 tsp of salt, and stir into the rice and water mixture. Bring water to a boil, and reduce heat to low and cook for additional 15 minutes, until rice is cooked.
  • While rice is cooking, preheat broiler. Place chicken thighs on the oven rack near the top of the oven for best exposure to the broiler. Cook on first side for 10 minutes. Then flip chicken and cook for an additional 5-minutes. Too keep them warm, you can turn broiler off and put the chicken on a lower rack or cover with aluminum foil.
  • Drain vegetables and stir in about 1-2 tsp of butter, salt, and pepper.
Now you're ready to serve up this super affordable and healthy meal. If you work on your timing of the steps, you can improve your efficiency in the kitchen, which saves you TONS of time!!! Let me know what you think!

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