Food & Drink

Southwest chicken and rice skillet recipe gets a boost from fresh peppers, spices

When it comes to a quick dinner, every cook could use a helping hand.

But handy “skillet supper” brands sold at the supermarket usually contain powdered seasoning packets and an ingredient list that includes partially hydrogenated oils. As with most packaged foods, fiber content is low.

The Kansas City Star’s Southwestern Chicken and Rice Skillet Meal is a fresh take on the skillet concept. Adding beans, corn and brown rice allowed us to significantly bump up the fiber – to 11 grams – while enhancing the flavor with fresh peppers, lime juice and fresh herbs.

The most famous skillet meal, Hamburger Helper, was introduced in 1970: “In the annals of pop culture, Hamburger Helper rates right up there with such other ‘bad taste’ food items as Spam, Easy Cheese, Slim Jims, Twinkies, and TV dinners – because if you really think about it, how much help does a pound of hamburger really need?” David Mansour writes in “Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century” (Andrews McMeel).

The line featured other starch and meat combinations to make a casserole in a skillet. Eventually “hamburger” was dropped from the line’s name, and a Whole Grain Helper is available, eliminating the trans fats.

Still, the less processed a food is, the better it is for your overall health.

This recipe was developed exclusively for The Star by Kansas City-based professional home economists Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss.

SOUTHWESTERN CHICKEN AND RICE SKILLET MEAL

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts; slice each breast evenly lengthwise to make 4 cutlets

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 poblano chili, seeds removed, chopped

1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1 cup frozen yellow corn

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons salsa

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Juice from 1 lime

Garnish: Chopped cilantro and salsa, if desired

In a small bowl, stir together salt, cumin, coriander, pepper and red pepper flakes. Using 1 tablespoon olive oil, rub each chicken cutlet with oil on both sides and sprinkle with 1/2 of the spice mixture. Set remaining spice mixture aside.

Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Cook chicken until golden and meat is no longer pink inside, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from heat and allow to stand for a few minutes. Slice cooked chicken into thin strips and set aside.

Add poblano, jalapeno and onion to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, over medium high heat, until vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes. Add corn, garlic and remaining spice mixture; blend well and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in chicken, brown rice, beans, salsa, cilantro and lime juice. Stir gently and cook until heated through, about 1 to 3 minutes.

If desired, sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro and dollops of salsa. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 530 calories (19 percent from fat), 11 g total fat (2 g saturated), 66 mg cholesterol, 69 g carbohydrates, 38 g protein, 996 mg sodium, 11 g dietary fiber.

Makes 4 servings.

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