Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cooking with Rod

Cooking with Rod

         At this time of year, all of us are fairly busy. Time for the kids to return to school, lots of changes in moving from relaxed Summer activities to more involved preparations for Fall and Winter.

         It is also the height of chile season. New Mexico cuisine is unique and I was blessed to grow up in the Land of Enchantment and to have been influenced not only by its incredible beauty but its artistry and culinary delights. This is one of my favorite classic New Mexico recipes made simple but retaining the authentic flavor of New Mexico, and prepared with love.

         This simple recipe is one that is sure to please you and your loved ones. Prepare, serve and sit back awaiting your compliments!

Easy Arroz con Pollo

  • 4 Breasts of Chicken, boneless and skinless
  • 3 Tbsp red chile powder (reserve 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin (reserve 2 tsp)
  • 1 can refried beans (can use low-fat if desired)
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium white onion, diced OR
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced using both bulb and green tops
  • 1 8 oz brick of Pepper Jack cheese, freshly grated
  • 4 fresh Hatch Green Chiles
    or if not available 1 can Hatch roasted, peeled green chiles
  • 3 cups Instant rice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with Hatch green chiles (or use Rotel or store brand)
  • 3 cups water
  • Cilantro leaves, if desired (adds a wonderful freshness to the dish)
    Prepare fresh Hatch chiles: Rinse, place on broiler pan under broiler until skin is wrinkled and blackened (this char is essential to the flavor.) Place warm chiles in a plastic bag, seal and set aside.
    (TIP: make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling the peppers and do NOT touch lips, nose or eyes.)
    Prepare chicken breasts: You may wish to spread the chicken breasts out and press them down to ensure the surfaces cook evenly. To these chicken breasts you add 2 Tbsp red chile powder and about half the ground cumin, thoroughly coating both sides with a thin layer of each. Once you have thoroughly coated the chicken breasts with the seasonings, set them on a baking sheet with a rack or a broiler pan and set them aside. Leave for the moment to permit the seasonings to be slightly absorbed by the chicken. While rice (see below) is being prepared, bake the seasoned breasts in 400º oven. Depending upon size, the chicken should be fully cooked in about 30 minutes. (TIP: Chicken is fully cooked if juices run clear when pricked with a meat fork.)
    Mexican Rice

    Prepare my Quick New Mexico Rice: Put can of Hatch (or Rotel) diced tomatoes and green chiles including all the juice in a fairly large sauce pan, add water and the diced bell pepper and most of the onion, reserving about a half cup of the onion for later use. Now add reserved red chile powder and ground cumin to this liquid. Whisk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the seasoned mixture is boiling, add 3 cups Instant rice, stir to blend, turn the heat off and cover. After about 10 – 15 minutes, the liquid should have been fully absorbed by the rice. Now, fluff with a fork, cover and set aside. Easy, peasy!
    Prepare refritos: Place can of refried beans in 8” oven and microwave proof casserole dish. Top with reserved onions and enough of the grated Pepper Jack cheese to just cover. Reserve the bulk of the cheese for later use. Heat in microwave or oven until beans are heated through, onion is slightly softened and the cheese is bubbly hot. Set aside.
    Hatch Chiles Prepared
    Finish the Hatch chiles: Remove the cooled Hatch chiles from the plastic bag. Scrape off the easily removable skin, cut off stem end, split each pepper and remove the seeds (also membrane if you don’t want the heat, but leave it in if you do.) Then slice into long strips. (TIP, remember to wash those hands again!)
    Prepare your plates: Spoon about ¾ to 1 cup of the Mexican Rice onto center of the plate, top with one baked chicken breast, cover each chicken breast with grated Pepper Jack cheese. Now place Hatch chile strips over the chicken breasts. Put the plate into a still warm oven for 2-3 minutes to let the cheese melt. Then add refried beans to each plate. Garnish with remaining green onion tops, stand a few crisp tortilla chips up in the beans, sprinkle cilantro leaves over the plate.
One chile on one chicken breast

         This dish is delicious served with a fresh green salad using salsa for the dressing. Serve sides of guacamole, sour cream, more chopped onions, grated cheese, tortilla chips and small ramekins of chile con queso, if desired. Cold iced tea or lemonade is a great heat reliever!

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