Yesterday morning, I promised myself that if I could write the first draft of my term paper by the end of the day, I could write a blog post. Eleven pages later, I got to write this! This has been a pretty busy week, with having started a new job and with trying to do regular coursework along with the term papers that I have due this week, so that’s why I haven’t been posting. But I still have had the opportunity to cook a few things and take pictures, so here I am! And after this week, things should settle back down a bit.
My last day of work last week happened to coincide with Cinco de Mayo. My coworkers and I took the opportunity to celebrate with a Mexican-themed potluck lunch. Someone brought empanadas, someone else brought taco soup, someone else brought some Mexican chicken and potatoes, and I brought tortilla chips with my homemade guacamole and salsa. When I was preparing the guacamole, for some reason I thought that it was appropriate to buy 3 limes, even though the recipe only called for one. So of course, I was left with 2. What to do with 2 leftover limes?
I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten at Chipotle, but they have the most delicious cilantro-lime rice you’ve ever tasted. There’s a recipe on allrecipes that claims to be a pretty close approximation, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
First step: bring some water to a boil.
Add butter and rice.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Piece of cake. Normally I really prefer using a rice cooker (sooo much less human error!), but this was pretty cut and dried.
In the meantime, I thought I’d prepare my chicken. I made this recipe a few months ago, and liked it enough to have it printed out. It’s basically a spicy seasonings rub for chicken, which is then sauteed in butter, oil, garlic and lime juice. Reviewers had complained that the seasonings rub didn’t go far enough, so I had doubled it. But I remember thinking that the flavor was just too much. If you want Parmesan cheese on your pasta, you don’t dump the whole bottle. This seemed similar, it was just covered in too much flavor. Also, hubby complained that the chicken was dry. That was my fault – I obeyed the cooking times too literally, when really I should have used my judgment. Knowing that both of these problems were fixable, I thought I’d give it another go.
Here’s my mixture of salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder (too much because I accidentally doubled that one, whoops), thyme, and parsley.
And here’s my solution to not having enough, particularly given that I was using chicken tenders instead of full breasts:
Just dropped them in a gallon-size zip lock bag and shook it around for a while.
Then I heated up some butter and oil in a pan…
And put in my chicken tenders…
I cooked them for a few minutes on both sides. After they were golden brown, I added more garlic powder (and lots of it!), along with lime juice and a half cup of chicken broth. The chicken broth isn’t in the original recipe, but reviewers suggested it. I meant to add it last time, but forgot, but I figured that adding it now would help with both the flavor and the dry texture.
Finally, it was looking pretty delicious but the texture seemed off. It was just too liquidy (I guess that’s what happens when you add so much liquid!). I fixed this with a little corn starch dissolved in a cup of water.
Okay, back to the rice.
The recipe said to mix in lime zest, lime juice, and fresh cilantro when the rice was done cooking. Lots of beautiful green.
Here’s the only problem: I did something really stupid. When I was prepping the water and rice 20 minutes ago, I had about a half cup of regular white rice left, and an unopened bag of brown rice. I didn’t know that cooking times are totally different for white rice and brown rice. Honest. Yes, I am that naïve in the kitchen sometimes. So yeah, the rice that I put in the pan was half white and half brown. This completely screwed up the cooking time. After the allotted 20 minutes, it was practically still crunchy. I had been so proud of myself for not picking up that lid and peeking at the rice while it was cooking (so tempting!), but now here I was doing it every 5 minutes after the initial 20 because I didn’t know how longer it would take for the brown rice kernels to finish cooking. Not good rice making technique to let all that steam out.
By the time the brown rice was done, the white rice in the mixture was completely overcooked and completely gooey.
I guess you can’t tell too much in this picture, but just take my word for it.
Oh well, not much to do about it at this point, huh? So I went ahead and mixed in my cilantro, lime juice, and lime zest. Aside from the gooey texture, it looked pretty good.
And my chicken turned out perfect, too.
Upshot: I learned my lesson about brown rice. Next time I try this rice recipe, I will go back to using my rice cooker, and I will definitely use ONLY white or only brown rice. But, the taste was actually really, really good, so I will definitely make it again. I might rinse off and then saute the rice kernels, too, because I’ve read that that makes it less sticky.
As for the chicken, hubby and I both loved it. My modifications made it much better than last time I made it.
So that was my lime dinner. I will post the rice recipe to my tastebook, the chicken recipe has already been printed so leave me a comment if you’d like an invite.