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southwest chicken and rice

Since dishes are one of the things I hate most about being a grownup (or maybe just a human being?) I’m always in love with any recipe that only dirties a few dishes. For this dinner, I only needed a knife, a cutting board, a frying pan, a plate, and a spatula. Awesome sauce. (And incidentally, the sauce was actually pretty awesome.) A long time ago, before I figured out how to cook very well, Geoff and I used to eat a lot of Chicken Helper meals. This meal was just slightly reminiscent of those days, but infinitely more delicious because I made everything from scratch. The night that we had it, I served it the way it shows on the website, with a piece of chicken, rice to the side, and salsa and sour cream on top. The next day, we had it for lunch with the chicken chopped up and the rice and chicken rolled up in a flour tortilla. Finally, I had it for lunch yesterday in a bowl with a slice of pepper jack melted on top. No matter how you serve it, it’s totally delicious. And easy. And comfort food. Yum.

Southwest Chicken and Rice
Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn
4 ounces cheese (used a combination of Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Salsa and sour cream for serving

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. The chicken will cook more in a subsequent step. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

To the pot, add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook until the edges are just slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Return the chicken to the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter or plate. Stir the black beans and corn into the pot. Add the cheese and cilantro. Season the rice mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the rice with the chicken, adding salsa and sour cream, if desired.

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