I’m dedicating this One Pot Meal to all the other people out there who a) love Mexican food b) love flavour explosions; and c) hate washing up
The idea to make this came about when I saw Oven Baked Mexican Rice by Imma at African Bites, one of my favourite blogs. Imma’s blog focusses on African and Caribbean dishes and though many of the recipes are new to me, I’m always surprised by how many of the ingredients I already have in the pantry. This is why her blog really appeals to me so much – using familiar ingredients (especially spices and herbs) to make new dishes.
When I saw Imma’s Oven Baked Mexican Rice, I wondered if I could cook chicken in the same pot. And it worked! Well, the second time it did. The first time I used the same rice to liquid ratio that Imma uses and did not take into account that the chicken releases juices while cooking so the rice was too soft and mushy. Also I adjusted the amount of flavourings in my rice because there is no sauce with this chicken so I wanted the rice to be well flavoured so it could be eaten plain.
The chicken is rubbed with classic Fajita flavours, then seared until brown. I used bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on because I love the crispy skin and I believe that bone-in meats are always juicier. But this recipe works really well with chicken thigh as well (or drumsticks). I personally have not made it with chicken breast because I find chicken breast too dry for this type of recipe (i.e. no sauce or soup).
This is a little different to the usual Mexican dishes because there is no sour cream, guacamole or cheese….shock horror! I actually think some sour cream on the side would compliment it nicely but I don’t feel the need for it.
I would love to hear if you give this a try! This really is a strong flavoured dish because of the spices used in it. The heat comes from a touch of cayenne pepper – you can adjust this to your taste, or substitute with another hot spice or even a dash of your favourite hot sauce!
Do you hate washing up as much as I do? – Nagi
- 1 tbsp garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves, minced)
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (Note 1), optional
- Black pepper
- 5 chicken thigh fillets, bone-in and skin on (Notes 2 and 3)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lime (juice only)
- 1 small onion, peeled and diced (or ½ large)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), sliced
- 1 cup long grain rice (Note 4)
- 1 cup chicken stock/broth (or vegetable stock)
- ¾ cup tomato puree or passata (Note 5)
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels (or canned - drained)
- 1 can (400g/16oz) black beans, drained and rinsed (or sub with red kidney beans)
- 1 lime, plus extra to serve
- Sliced jalapeño peppers (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
- Combine the Mexican Spice Mix ingredients in a small bowl.
- Rub Chicken: Place 2 tbsp of the Mexican Spice Mix in a small bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil and lime juice. Mix to combine. Use your hands to slather the Mexican Spice Mix all over each piece of chicken.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat. Cook chicken in batches for 2 minutes or until browned, then cook the other side for 1½ minutes. Remove chicken onto a plate.
- In the same skillet, still over medium high heat, add the onion, garlic and capsicum (bell peppers). Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the onion and capsicum start to brown. These will get covered in the brown bits stuck to the fry pan from searing the chicken (adds flavour and colour to the rice).
- Turn the stove down to medium, then add the rice. Stir to coat the rice grains with the onion mixture and oil.
- Add the chicken stock, tomato puree/passata, corn, beans and remaining Mexican Spice Mix. Stir to combine.
- Place chicken back in the skillet on top of the rice, skin side up. It should be partially submerged in the liquid but most of the skin should be above the liquid.
- Bring to simmer, then turn off the stove. Cover the skillet with a lid or foil and place into the oven.
- Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and take off the lid/foil.
- Return the skillet to the oven, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes until only small puddles of liquid remain on the surface of the rice. This step allows the chicken skin to crisp up and the remaining liquid in the rice to largely evaporate.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes (uncovered). Any remaining liquid will evaporate in this step.
- Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the chicken and rice.
- Serve, garnished with coriander/cilantro leaves, extra lime wedges and sliced jalapeños, if desired. Sour cream and yoghurt also goes well with this.
2. I like making this with bone-in skin-on chicken because I think that the meat is juicier and I love the crispy skin. This also works really well with drumsticks. To make it healthier you can use skinless chicken thigh fillets. It is still really delicious, you just don't get the crispy skin. My personal view is that chicken breast is not suited to this recipe. Because the cooking time is dependent on the rice, it is difficult to cook chicken breast perfectly so it doesn't end up dry and there is no sauce to compensate if the breast is overcooked.
3. If using chicken thigh fillets, add the chicken into the skillet after it has been in the oven for 10 minutes. Otherwise the chicken will probably be overcooked (because the cooking time is for bone-in chicken fillets which take about 10 minutes longer to cook).
4. You can substitute the long grain rice with basmati or jasmine rice. The next best substitute is medium grain rice. Short grain rice, risotto rice and paella rice are not suited to this recipe (the rice will end up mushy).
5. Tomato passata / puree is like a thick tomato juice. It is plain pureed tomatoes. Not to be confused with tomato paste or tomato ketchup! You can make your own by pureeing any plain canned tomatoes in a blender (which is what I did). Otherwise, mix ⅓ cup of tomato paste with ⅔ cup water and add 1 tsp of sugar, and use as per recipe directions.