I know this isn’t an authentic Mexican recipe.  The inspiration for this dinner came from the fact that my son would rather eat at Chipotle then eat anything I cook.  So, I decided to try to bring Chipotle home.  First, I wanted to figure out how they make their rice.  I was shocked when I saw my son scarfing down the rice at Chipotle; because, it has cilantro in it (yes, green things)!  I searched the internet and found the recipe ChipotleFan.com.  This website has (unofficial) recipes for all the food at Chipotle.  The rice recipe was basically a pilaf with a lot of lime and cilantro.  I took this information and just adjusted the rice pilaf recipe I make from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann.

I started by getting my chicken in the oven.  I rinsed the chicken, tied its legs with kitchen twine, and then lathered it with butter and a spice rub that I got from Martha Stewart’s Great Food Fast.  The rub had chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, oregano, and kosher salt. I roasted it at 425 for an hour.  Many cooks and chefs believe that chicken is done when a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees.  I have read various things regarding the temperature a chicken needs to be before it is considered done.  The U.S. government states that it must be 180 degrees at the thigh.  This means that the breast is way overdone.  Martha Stewart’s book says that the temperature should be 160 degrees at the thigh for the chicken to be done.  I have followed Martha’s advice and it has served me well.  You can also just cut into the chicken and see if it is cooked all the way.  This will cause the loss of some of the chicken’s juices and will lead to a drier chicken.

Back to the meal.  Then, I got to work on my rice.  I have a rice cooker; so, making perfect rice is really easy.  I just melted some butter, coated the rice in the butter, then added fresh lime juice, water, salt.  When the rice was done,  I added a ton of minced fresh cilantro and fresh lime juice and salt to taste.  I closed the lid and let the rice steam with the added cilantro and lime.  I highly recommend investing in a rice cooker.  I use mine several times a week for sushi rice, pilaf, etc.  It is the one way to make perfect rice with a minimal amount of effort.

To complete the meal — I chopped up some avocado, drained a can of pinto beans, added some pico de gallo.  I sprinkled some chopped cilantro over the plates for the adults.  This rice bowl was easy to make and delicious!  I like this kind of dinner with children; because, they can pick what they want to put in their rice bowl.  You can add different kinds of steamed or roasted vegetables to make this more nutritious and add some variety.  You can also use different types of beans.  A variety of color and texture can help to get a child  (or picky grown up) to eat a healthy meal.

Also — do not be afraid to roast a chicken.  I was freaked out by an episode of America’s Test Kitchen where they made roasting a chicken seem like a feat that only Thomas Keller could pull off.  But, then I discovered Martha Stewart’s method and I have successfully roasted many chickens.  It is very easy and really delicious.  A good quality chicken roasted at home is a real treat.  Try it.  If you need help let me know.  I am an experience chicken roasting coach — I can walk you through it.

Mexican style roast chicken

Adapted from Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart

Chile Rub (optional)

Mix the following ingredients in a small bowl:

1 tablespoon of chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed and patted dry

2 tablespoons of butter, at room temperature

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen twine (tuck the wings under the chicken, if desired, for a neater presentation.  Place the chicken on a rack set in a roasting pan.

2.  Rub the chicken with butter.  Season with the chile rub or just salt and pepper  Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees (see note above regarding cooking temperatures) when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding bone), 45 minutes – 1 hour.

Cilantro & Lime Rice (for a rice cooker)

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups of long-grain white rice (such as basmati)

2 3/4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

2 limes

1/4 cup or more fresh cilantro, minced

1.  Set the rice cooker for Quick Cook or regular cycle.  Place the butter in the rice bowl.  When melted, add the rice.  Cook, stirring a few times, until are the grains are evenly coated and hot, about 5 minutes.  Add the water, the juice of 1 lime, and salt.  Close the cover and reset for the regular cycle.

2.  When the machine switches to the Keep Warm cycle, open the cover and add the rest of the lime juice and the cilantro.  Close the cover and let the rice steam for a few minutes.  When ready to serve, fluff the rice and add salt to taste.

Cilantro & Lime Rice for the stovetop

1 cup of basmati rice

1 1/2 cups of water

1 tablespoon of butter

2 limes

1/4 cup of cilantro

1 teaspoon of kosher salt (or more to taste)

1.  Heat a heavy pan over medium-high heat.  Melt the butter and add the rice.  Coat the rice in the butter and let it heat up for about 5 minutes.  Add the water and salt.  Bring the heat up to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook for 12-14 minutes.

2.  Remove from heat and let stand cover for 5-10 minutes.  Add the cilantro and remaining lime juice cover and let steam for a few more minutes.  Add salt to taste.

To Make the Mexican Rice Bowl

Add some chicken, some rice, diced avocado, drained canned pinto beans, and pico de gallo to a bowl.  You can also add other vegetables or other types of beans.  Sprinkle some chopped cilantro over the top.

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