Friday, February 10, 2012

Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Green Apple Salsa

I am moving a little slow today.  It's not that I didn't like the dish or that I feel bad I don't have anything better to share with you.  No, that's not the case at all.  Actually, this should be like the poster child recipe of what I wanted this blog to be.  I have been looking for an excuse to make this ever since I got my January (January!) Bon Appetit, but something always came up.  Ben wanted fish, or I didn't want to cook and wanted Chinese instead.  And when I finally made it last Wednesday, we both fell in love with it.  It was one of those dinners where I was continually saying in between large, unlady-like mouthfuls (sorry Mom), "This is good, this is like really good, don't you think this is good??"  Heck, I even got some half decent pictures, although natural light is something I won't see on a weekday night for another few months.  It is without a doubt going into the big green cookbook.  So why am I not chomping at the bit to share this deliciousness with you?  Because I'm just feeling a little sluggish when it comes to blogging today.  Sorry.

So of course, the only thing that I am really worried about is that this will deter you from trying this.  If that is the case, I'm going to feel guilty.  This is a fantastic, everything there kind of meal.  It is delicious and smoky, mysterious (with cumin seeds...), and then there is this incredibly brightness and crunch from the apple salsa.  Whatever you do, don't skimp on the salsa, and if no other changes, I would make extra of the green apple salsa.  It is what ties the chicken, beans and rice all together.  And with the quick squeeze of a lime wedge over it all before you dive in?  Really, it is dinner perfection.  Filling and comforting, it is rice and beans, for crying out loud and please, please, just make this?  Ignore my ho-hum mood and make this.  Don't wait two months like I did either, because this is the perfect February-and-I'm-still-freezing-my-ass-off, stick to your ribs kind of dinner.  So, go, make, and be happy.

Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Green Apple Salsa
Adapted hardly from Bon Appetit's January 2012 issue

If you can get your hands on a good rotisserie chicken, this is the time and place for it.  I had a few chicken breasts in the freezer, so I baked them up in the oven and used them instead.  Ben and I both agreed though, rotisserie would be the way to go.  Make sure to rinse your beans before you add them too, you get rid of a lot of the added sodium that way.  And go heavy on the apple salsa, it's delicious.

Oh, also.  I was able to get the salsa made while the beans were simmering away.  It was only hectic one or two times.  If you have the time, prep it before so you can pay attention and not have any "oh shit" moments.  But to save time, you can make during without too much trouble.

1 medium Granny Smith apple
1/3 c. cilantro
1/3-1/2 c. very diced red onion, divided
1-2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 of medium bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. Canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. cumin seeds
3 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
Kosher salt and pepper
Cooked brown or white rice
Shredded rotisserie chicken
Lime wedges

Over medium heat, heat oil in large skillet.  Once hot, add bell pepper and onion, reserving 2 tablespoons of onion for the salsa.  Cook until completely soft, about 7 minutes, stirring often.  Once soft, add garlic, chili powder, coriander and cumin seeds to pan.  "Toast" spices until fragrant about 2 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning.  Pour in broth and beans, scrapping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Turn heat to medium high and bring mixture to boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer beans briskly for 8-10 minutes.  Stir often and smash some beans with the back of the spoon to help thicken sauce.

Meanwhile, chop apple and cilantro.  In small bowl, combine apple, cilantro and reserved red onions, pouring lime juice over top.  Toss to coat and add more lime juice as needed.  Set aside.

Once beans have thickened (beans will have some liquid still, which helps make the rice even better), season to taste with salt, pepper and lime juice, if desired. 

To serve, mound rice and beans next to each other on the plate, just extra liquid from the beans to moisten the rice.  Top with shredded chicken and a generous helping of apple salsa.  Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro (optional).  Enjoy!

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