Cilantro Lime Chicken Bake

I’m someone who will try almost anything- seriously.  While I’m not as extreme as Andrew Zimmern or even Anthony Bourdain (and yes, Andrew is MUCH more extreme), I’m willing to give something a shot even if it seems weird.  I’m not sure why I’m so open to trying new things- my parents didn’t ever impress upon us that we needed to try everything or give all foods a fair shot; if anything, my mom would often recall her horror at having to eat liver and onions when she was younger, and I remember one particular wedding we attended where they were serving caviar and escargo (for the laymen- fish eggs and snails), and I was warned by my cousins to steer clear of the table.

Nope.  My ability to look past the odd and dive headlong into new waters is purely a ‘me’ thing, I think.  Like liver- I’ve never tried it, but I DO believe that -if its cooked well- perhaps it might not be so bad.  Usually what turns people off to something is texture, anyways, so maybe I’d like it.  If I ever try it, I’ll let you know.

Anyways, I say all this because I DO insist that my kids give all foods a fair shot and not to shoot something down just because it sounds weird or looks odd or has ingredients that won’t seem to work together- and even once they’ve tried something and written it off as “Do not ever eat again”, I STILL will make them try it again in the future.  Why?  Because tastes change.

Case in point- this dish.  I found it off Pinterest and Bug declared before ever taking a bite that he hated it.  Why?  Because it combined chicken and mangoes- a “no-no” in his book.  He fought me for a long time until I finally won the battle with “well, I’m not a short order cook, so you can try it and possibly like it, or you can go to bed hungry.”  In the end, he tasted it and loved it- even going back for seconds… and thirds. (Although, his pride kept him from ever REALLY saying he had been wrong in making a quick judgment.)  This is now one of our family’s favs.  Yeah, its a tad labor intensive, but every once in a while you should throw your clock out the window and just make something that will taste amazing.  This does- trust me.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Bake

Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade (for 4 chicken breasts)
-3/4 c vegetable oil
-Juice and zest of 2 limes
-2 cloves garlic -2 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp salt -1/4 tsp black pepper
-1/2 C finely chopped cilantro
*I put everything in blender and have it mix and chop it.

Cilantro Lime Rice
-1 cup uncooked rice
-1 can chicken broth
-1 cup water
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Tbls freshly squeezed lime juice
-2 tsp sugar
-3 Tbls finely chopped cilantro
* Throw the rice, broth, water, garlic & some lime juice into a pot and let it cook. I also usually add a tbsp or two of butter to the pot to keep the grains of rice from clumping.  While it’s cooking I mix the sugar, lime juice & cilantro in a bowl. When rice is finished fluff the rice while mixing the sugar mixture into the rice.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
-1 batch prepared Ranch Buttermilk Dressing
-3-5 tomatillos (quartered)
-1 handful of cilantro
-1 jalepeno (optional)
-juice of 1 lime
-salt & pepper to taste
*Blend all ingredients in blender and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
*This ranch is for drizzling on top of each slice of casserole after it’s been cooked right before serving.  And for salads.  And veggies.  And for licking off the spoon…

-You’ll also be using a small container of sour cream, Pepper Jack cheese and prepared Mango salsa. (Or you can make your own.)

Before you do anything, you need to prep the chicken with the marinade.  This makes it so it isn’t a “last minute meal” that you can just whip up, but -once again- its worth it.  And if you do this the night before, it’ll make your life easier the next day- and the flavors will be a LOT more intense.

Next on the list- and you can do this after you’ve prepped the chicken the night before, too- is making the dressing.  Its OH-so-tasty and it makes a LOT, so save it in an old jar in the fridge.  We loved it on salads the next day and with veggies as a snack.

The day of, make the rice and layer it on the bottom of your dish.  Grill your chicken (or cook it in a pan if you don’t have a grill) and shred it.  Put it all on top of the rice (with the exception of those few bites you probably stole while you were shredding).  Slather it all with the sour cream.

Next, cover the sour cream with the mango salsa.  How much you use is your choice, but I suggest making sure the whole dish is COVERED.  Its yummy and you won’t regret it.

Finally, cover the whole thing with a TON of the cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until heated through (about 20 min). Then turn on broil until the cheese crisps a little.

When serving, drizzle tomatillo dressing on top and ENJOY!

Let me know how you like it!

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