So one pan cooking has been around forever. Mom threw everything in a roaster or crock pot. In college everything I made went into a hot pot and nowadays things are either in a baking dish or a stock pot. It’s not new but it sure is awesome. I mean HELLO… one pot to clean (well okay minus the plates or utensils… that is unless you’re a caveman). This recipe I’ve been making ever since I bought my first house. I had bought some chicken breasts and veggies. I had rice on hand and a half open jar of salsa in my fridge. Working long hours at my day job, helping to run my family’s pizza shop and running my own web company I didn’t have much free time. Cooking back then wasn’t really a priority. I mean I loved it but it wasn’t a priority. Sad I know but it’s the truth.
I can still remember the first time I made this. I had just got home from tutoring on a Saturday morning at the local library and I had 4 hours of down time until I went into the pizza shop. I fed the cats (because lord knows if you didn’t feed them as soon as you walked in the door there was hell to pay) and put the rest of their canned food in the fridge. It was there that I saw the chicken (that I had to use up), the half full jar of salsa, cilantro and stock. This dish just kind of was a ‘dump it all in the pool’ type recipe.
I’d love to tell you that it turned out amazing the first time I made it. Yeah, no, it didn’t. It was HORRIFIC! The rice was hard as a rock, dry as I didn’t use enough liquid and the chicken was rubbery. I way under cooked it. So I tried it again… and again.. and again. Honestly this dish took me about 8 times to get right AND to make it repeatable quality-wise. Remember, I’m a perfectionist.
This dish is one of those dishes that you can repurpose into unbelievable leftovers. Truth be told, I’ll often make this dish, not eat it as I have it shown in the photos but instead actually use it for leftovers. It’s PHENOMENAL in burritos (or freezer burritos!) or Mexican chicken rice bowls. And OMG don’t even get me started with this on nachos! OMG… it TOTALLY takes cheese and nachos to a whole new level!
This is one of those dishes I make about once a month and usually 2 trays at a time. One is for dinner one night and different lunches for Mr. Fantabulous and I throughout the week. The other I let cool, chop up and then turn into freezer burritos. The first time I made this for Mr. Fantabulous he came up from the studio where he was practicing his guitar and started sniffing around. When this bakes you can smell the Mexican spices. Now you can easily add chopped jalapenos or more chillies to the mix but he’s not one for super spicy foods so I keep it to medium salsa and one can of green chillies. He ate 2 plates of this at dinner raving over how good it was. So much so that he asked for this again the next night. By day 3 I was sick of it and figured he would be so I made some burritos out of them. Well the next day I get a text message “OMG honey these burritos are amazing!”
This dish is really adaptable meaning you can add in what you want veggie-wise. I’ve added in chopped asparagus, broccoli, no beans, roasted corn, fresh tomatoes, tomatillos – you name it. The sky is the limit. I’ve also made this with wild grain rice though keep in mind that rice will need about another 20 minutes to cook before it’s done as wild grain rice takes longer to soak up the liquid. As for the salsa go with any jarred stuff or use your own. Try it with Salsa Verde for a great flavor with a twist!
One final thing is if you want a more creamy version, add in a block of cream cheese to the mix. If I have it on hand I’ll add it in but it’s not necessary. With football season upon us, this makes a KILLER dish to take with you or to server on the buffet table. Plus next time you’re invited for a potluck, make this! You will definitely be the hit of the party!
- 3lb (about 4 large) boneless skinless chicken breast (or thighs), pounded to even thickness
- 1 1/2 cups salsa (mild/medium/hot/OMG I wanna die fire hot)
- 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups frozen (thawed) or fresh corn
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 small can minced green chilis
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- *for creamy add in 1 8ounce block cream cheese (cubed)
- 2 cups cheddar, shredded
- Preheat the oven to 400F (375F for convection).
- In a 9×13” casserole pan add all of the ingredients (only half of the cilantro though) EXCEPT the cheddar and chicken.
- Mix to combine and then place the chicken into the mixture trying to submerge as best as possible.
- Cover tightly with foil and if the mixture is at the top of your pan it’s wise to put a larger rimmed pan beneath it in case there are drips.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven, remove the chicken and carefully set aside.
- Mix in the 1 cup of the cheese into the rice mixture left in the pan.
- Place the chicken back in the pan gently pushing down into the rice.
- Top with the remaining cheese and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. The rice mixture should not be dry. It should have some liquid left (if you need more, add more stock). The liquid will absorb more into the rice as it cools.
- Garnish with the remaining cilantro.