Using just one skillet, this recipe for Skillet Mexican Chicken and Rice has all the great flavors of Mexican food, and comes together easily for a delicious weeknight meal
The making of - Skillet Mexican Chicken and Rice
One pot dinners are a great, time-saving, quick clean-up meal - and this one is no exception. Brown, sauté, stir, cover, and pop into the oven to finish cooking while you have time either with the kids, the husband, to take a quick walk, or even to Facebook.
In Spanish, this dish would be called Arroz con Pollo or Chicken with Rice which is typically made with red and green peppers; while my recipe uses more Mexican style ingredients, peppers, black beans, and corn, it does cook in the same manner.
Browned chicken pieces, nestled into long-grain rice, are then covered and put into the oven to finish. It's a very simple meal to prepare that shows an international flair.
For this recipe, I used bone-in skinless chicken thighs.
First of all, let me just say that bone-in skinless chicken thighs are almost impossible to find here in my neck of the woods anymore. If you do find them, they generally have the skin-on, so if they do, take it off.
In this preparation, the skin almost always gets soft and flabby.
I don't like soft flabby skin, and if I put the spice rub on the skin, and remove it after I've cooked it, half of the flavor is on the side of the plate with the skin.
So, remove the skin before you brown so you have all the flavor of the spice on the meat itself.
Unless you don't mind the extra calories of the soft flabby skin, then, by all means, leave it on.
More easily found anymore is boneless, skinless chicken thighs. These will work with this recipe, but I find, once the bone is removed, the meat doesn't remain as moist. So bone-in is preferred.
Could you make this with chicken breasts?
Yes, I think you could, but you would need bone-in breast. Because of the time, it takes to cook the rice properly, a boneless skinless chicken breast would become dry. And that's not my favorite way to eat chicken. So a large, bone-in breast could work but will be less moist than the bone-in thigh.
So bone-in chicken thigh. I figure, 1 large or 2 small per person.
I used California, also known as Anaheim, chilies.
Roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced.
You could also use poblano.
I figure about 3 California chiles, or 1 large or 2 small poblano chilies will do it.
For convenience, you could also use canned chilies, such as Ortega brand chilies.
If you use canned I prefer to buy whole chilies and diced them, rather than those that come diced, which are more like mush.
But flavor is flavor, so the already diced ones will add flavor, just not be as texturally interesting.
Frozen - fine.
Canned - fine.
Fresh - fine.
Whichever you have and prefer.
During the summer months, I would make this with fresh, peeled, diced tomatoes. During the winter months, canned diced tomato.
Whenever I cook with canned diced tomatoes, I always chop them finely after draining them.
Canned diced tomatoes just don't break down the same as fresh, and I don't like a bunch of hard little tomato cubes in my dishes.
If you don't mind, then leave them the way they come. Otherwise, drain and chop.
Because of the way the rice cooks, covered and baked in the oven, long-grain white rice will work best.
Short grain white rice will get mushy, and brown rice would not cook fully in the allotted time. If you were to choose to use brown rice, look for one that is "quick cook" or "partially pre-cooked".
What about substitute Quinoa?
Although rice is gluten-free, I know a lot of you prefer quinoa to rice.
That's fine, as quinoa cooks in about the same time as white rice. I do recommend that you thoroughly rinse the quinoa as I find most brands have a bitter outer coating on them that needs to be removed.
I've also found that quinoa cooks, and to me tastes better after being sautéed, or even lightly browned in oil. So do the same to the quinoa as advised for the rice.
It is best to use an oven-safe skillet that has a tight cover to prepare this recipe.
If you don't have one, then a skillet and some aluminum foil will work too.
After making the spice mix, and reserving 2 tablespoons for the rice, rub the spices over the chicken thighs and then brown in hot oil until nice and brown. Remove them to a plate.
Lower the heat, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until tender - this should take about 5 minutes. Add the rice, quinoa or whatever, and cook in the oil until covered and just starting to turn translucent on the edges.
Stir in the liquids (2 cups total) along with the peppers, tomato, corn, and beans. Nestle those chicken thighs into the rice, add any accumulated juice from the plate, and bring to a simmer.
Cover and put in a 350º oven for 30 minutes, uncover and cook another 10 or so, or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the chicken is cooked through. Serve the rice, with the chicken on top, and squeeze a bit of lime juice on it. The acidity of the lime juice really perks up the flavor.
Cilantro, love it or hate it? If you love it, sprinkle some on. If you hate it, don't.
I like to serve this with a variety of sauces and salsas so each person can "individualize" it to their taste and heat factor. Some like it hot, some like it not.
Skillet Mexican Chicken with Rice
Skillet Mexican Chicken and Rice
- Spice Mix
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano smoosh between fingers
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- For the Chicken
- 6 large chicken thighs bone-in preferred, skin removed as desired
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- For the Rice
- ½ cup diced onion
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 3 California Anaheim chiles, roasted, seeded, peeled and diced OR 1 (4-ounce) can whole chilis (such as Ortega®) diced
- ¾ cup diced canned tomato juice reserved
- Reserved tomato juice with enough water added to make 1 cup
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup corn kernels fresh, frozen, or canned
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- Lime wedges
- Minced fresh cilantro
- Heat oven to 350°F. Mix the spices together in a small bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons and set aside. Rub the remaining spice mixture over the chicken thighs.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the chicken thighs and cook until browned. Remove and set aside.
- Lower the heat slightly, then add the onion and garlic, cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the rice to the skillet and stir to combine with the onions and to coat the rice with the oil. Stir in the chilis, tomato, water/tomato juice mix, chicken stock, corn, black beans, and reserved spice mixture. Mix well; nestle the chicken thighs into the rice; bring to a simmer, then cover and place the skillet into the oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Serve the rice on a plate, top with the chicken pieces. Squeeze the lime juice over the chicken and sprinkle with cilantro if desired.
LindySez: This recipe will more than likely make more rice than you need - but it freezes beautifully so save the left-over for another day.