Black Beans and Rice…Fancy Style!

Happy 2012!

Everybody make some stellar resolutions for the new year?  I did!  …I resolve to see Paris in the spring (or summer)!  …That’s a resolution, right?  I haven’t thought all that much about it yet, but I’m going to figure out how to make it happen!

My holiday weekend was spent working the early shift, which to be honest, does not agree with me!  I’m a complete night owl!  When I wake up at 4am (give or take a couple hours…), I’m worthless by the time I get home from work.  I don’t want to clean.  I don’t want to exercise.  I don’t want to cook.  All I want to do is sit on the couch and watch Lifetime movies.  Lame (and incredibly embarassing!), but true.  Sometimes I force myself to get things done, but I’ve got to say…it ain’t easy!

After work yesterday I had good intentions.  I stopped at the grocery store, Bon Appetit in hand, and filled my cart with veggies, organic chicken breasts, and beans.  I even bought a bottle of sparkling pink grape juice (Piyush doesn’t drink…and I had to be up early for work).  I planned on making an easy…but awesome New Years Eve dinner since neither Piyush nor I wanted to go out.  Well, that didn’t happen! Sometimes good intentions aren’t enough.  I needed motivation, but must have hit my yearly limit…because I found none!  …We ordered sushi instead, and I promised myself I’d definitely cook the next day. Piyush and I enjoyed our sushi dinner (kind of.  It wasn’t the best…) and then I went to bed at 8:30pm!  That never happens!  He woke me up at midnight to give me my New Years kiss, then he went back downstairs to watch golf, or something.  I had a full 8 hours of sleep, and it was wonderful!

Once work was over, I came home and started preparing for dinner.  This way I couldn’t decide to be lazy.  I poached the chicken breasts and made the apple salsa.  I was trying a new recipe I saw in January’s issue of Bon Appetit: Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa.

As I was paging through the magazine, the recipe jumped out at me…and I knew I wanted to make it.  Well, I mostly wanted to eat it…but it had to be made to be eaten.  This recipe was super easy and really flavorful!  Like, really flavorful!  I think the apple salsa was my favorite part!

I made a few changes to the recipe, but they were pretty minor.  First, I don’t like rotisserie chicken.  Sure, it’s incredibly easy…and cheaper than organic chicken breasts, but there’s something about the flavor that doesn’t sit right with me.  I think they’re too salty.  Instead, I poached two chicken breasts in a pan with enough water to cover them.  I threw in a bay leaf and a few spices…and wham!  In addition to my super tender chicken, I also had homemade broth.  It didn’t have as much flavor as stock that simmers all day long with bones and herbs, but I’ll tell you one thing.  It was way better than canned or boxed broth that has ingredients listed that I don’t even know if they’re safe to consume.  Bought chicken broth usually has that “off” flavor, anyway…and if you get the organic unsalted stuff, it’s expensive!

A quick note on the organic thing, we don’t buy everything organic.  We’d be broke if we did.  Meat is one item I really try hard to purchase as either organic or straight from the farmer who raised it, though.  It doesn’t always happen, but I get sorta creeped out by a lot of the things I’ve read about hormones and slaughterhouses…and to be honest, I want to eat the meat for what it is…not for what chemicals it was injected with. 

Back to the recipe, I also cooked the rice (white rice, because it’s what we had on hand) in our rice cooker in some of that homemade chicken broth.  The recipe didn’t specify to rinse the beans, but I definitely did.  That bean goo creeps me out…and they’re doused in so much unnecessary sodium.  A quick rinse cured both those problems.

I’m so glad we have a lot of left overs and I can’t wait to gobble up that apple salsa again tomorrow! Wooo! Wooo!

The Recipe:

Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa

Adapted from Bon Appetit (link to recipe here)

  • 1 cup chopped peeled Granny Smith apple
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • 1 2–3-pound rotisserie chicken, skin discarded and meat shredded
  • 4–6 lime wedges

Directions:

  • Combine apple, 1/4 cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons onion, and 1 teaspoon lime juice in a small bowl; toss to coat. Set apple salsa aside.
  • Combine remaining onion, bell pepper, and oil in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until completely softened, 6–7 minutes. Add garlic and next 3 ingredients; stir constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in broth and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer briskly, mashing some of the beans with the back of a spoon and stirring often, until sauce is thickened, 8–10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired.
  • Divide rice and beans among plates. Top with some chicken and apple salsa. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and lime wedges.
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