23 September 2013

Eats: salsa chicken & rice

The trouble with telling you about my super-simple dinners, dear readers, is all the imaginary critics rolling their eyes. They just can’t believe that I put together a few basic ingredients and pretend it’s a recipe. That I consider it cooking. And especially that I think the whole internet needs to know about it.

Well. The imaginary critics are just going to have to deal, because I imagine that a lot of my readers are like me: super busy and in constant need of dinnertime inspiration. So when I find a simple combination that makes me say “OMG LET’S EAT THIS EVERY NIGHT?” I’mma tell you about it. That way you, too, can make and fall in love with salsa chicken!

Today’s “recipe” has real source recipe to link to, because really, it was simply inspired by this photo. That photo alone spurred a sudden and inexplicable craving for saffron rice, so I added few Mexican/Baja-style ingredients also from the photo to turn it into a meal. And rather than drop lots of dollars on expensive saffron seasoning to make my own saffron rice, I picked up a bag of this:

I found it in the “ethnic foods” aisle of our grocery and it cost less than a dollar. I just followed the directions to prepare it:

That’ll cure a saffron rice craving, right there!

Then there’s the chicken. As always, I sliced the breasts in half lengthwise for more reasonably-sized portions, then gave them a few good shakes of salt and pepper:

Then I sautéd in olive oil over medium heat. Just a few minutes per side, only enough to get some browned bits and leave it juicy in the middle.

All right. Now, here’s one of the absolutely essential parts of salsa chicken and rice, even if it didn’t make the recipe-name-cut. It’s an avocado. Do not omit the avocado. This dish is not worth making without a perfectly ripe, delicious avocado. This year I’ve only found decent avocados at Trader Joe’s, and you bet I make special trips to Trader Joe’s just for their perfect avocados.

By the by, have I told you guys how to easily cut an avocado? It took me a ridiculously long time to figure this out. Furthermore, just when I thought I was a genius for figuring it out, I realized the internet already totally knew this is the best way to dice up an avocado, and I somehow missed the memo and re-invented the wheel. Still, if you haven’t had your own lightbulb moment re: avocado slicing yet, HERE: Slice the avocado in half. Cut criss-crosses in the half, while it’s still in its peel, as you see above. Then just scoop it out.

Do you know how many hours I spent scooping out avocado halves and meticulously dicing them? This takes about thirty seconds.

Ok, home stretch! Once the rice is made, the chicken is browned, and the avocado is cubed, it’s time to assemble. You only need salsa (of course) and cheese and sour cream, if you wish.

For ultra-fancy restaurant-meal vibes, make a small bed of rice, and add the chicken and avocado.

Oh, and if you want cheese, add it BEFORE the avocado, right on the warm chicken. This allows the cheese to get a bit melty. I didn’t want any cheese this time, but it’s delicious with cheese too!

Then just scoop on the salsa. We like Herdez, medium heat, also found in the ethnic foods aisle.

And that’s it! So basic, and yet somehow greater than the sum of its parts. I’ve added a super-tasty dollop of light sour cream other times I’ve made this, so add that if you want. I also LOVE eating this with a side “salad” of romaine with a slight drizzle of ranch dressing. I just mix the whole plate together and it is so dang delicious... like a burrito without the tortilla.

I’m not lying when I say I want to eat this every single week. And it doesn’t take much longer than basic tacos – just a few extra minutes to cook the rice – but it is a whole ‘nother level. Even the imaginary blog critics will stop rolling their eyes and make this. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

And finally, here’s this week’s meal plan at Casa P:

Sunday: Stroganoff meatballs with egg noodles and peas

Monday: sriracha chicken, salad-ified (bumped from last week)

Tuesday: beef tacos with chips & salsa (if I had avocados, I would TOTALLY make this instead)

Wednesday: Chinese pork with rice and veggies

Thursday: Conference for me, leftovers for Mr. P

Friday: Still conference-time for me. I’m having dinner at the zoo!

Saturday: Family’s here! Mr. P’s gonna make chocolate chip waffles for breakfast, mmm. And I’m still deciding between about four different dinner plans... which of course, I bought food for all. What can I say, I like options.

Have a delightful Monday, dear readers!