When I first moved into my apartment (and out of dorms!) my sophmore year, I was thrilled to finally have a kitchen. So, of course, I started looking for recipes. The first thing that I ever learned to make by heart was Salsified Chicken, which I affectionately dubbed my “White Trash Casserole” because, well, if you make it you’ll see why. (When you take off the lid you are confronted with a sheet of lumpy melted cheese. Less than appetizing…)
It was cheap, tasty and I was even able to trick myself into thinking that it was not horrible for me. There was only one problem. From the flavor to the texture, the entire thing was completely homogenous. Every bite tasted the same. Don’t get me wrong, the taste was quite good, but it was boring. The reason? Everything gets cooked together in eachothers juices. There is no room for individual flavors (or any texture other than “mushy”) to develop. Paula Dean would be proud.
I decided to challenge that. Using the same basic ingredients (chicken, rice, beans, tomato, cheese and onion-yes, I know that the beans aren’t in the origonal recipe. A girl’s not allowed to be creative?) but cooking them seperately and combining them at the end resulted in an interesting, multi flavored, multi textured culinary experience. Since I didn’t want to completely lose the gastronomical tie between the flavors, I decided to insert lemon as a unifying ingredient.
For White Trash Casserole:
- 1lb Chicken Breast cut into bite sized pieces
- 1/2 container Chicken Broth
- A Splash of Orange Juice
- One small container Salsa
- 2 Cups of Instant Rice
- 1/2 Bag of Shredded Cheese
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
Cook the chicken in a pan. Add Broth, Juice and Salsa. Bring to a boil. Mix in Rice, salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Sprinkle Cheese over top. Let sit until rice is cooked and cheese is melted.
You can see why it was easy to memorize…
For Something a Little Tastier:
- 1 Cup uncooked long grain white rice
- 1 Cup dry black beans
- 1 Lemon
- Lemon Juice
- Lemon Pepper
- 1 lb Chicken Breast, cut into bite sized pieces
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Feta Cheese as desired
- 4 Tomatoes
- 1 Med. Onion
Combine chicken, rice, beans and sauce (recipes below) in a pot. Sprinkle Feta on top and serve.
Soak beans overnight or bring to a boil in two cups of water for three minutes and let soak for 1 hour. Rinse beans thoroughly. Cover with water and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cook until beans are tender (about one hour) then add lemon juice to taste.
Place chicken in a shallow bowl and just cover with lemon juice. Let marinate for 1/2 hour to overnight. Thoroughly dry the chicken with a paper towel and dry rub with salt and pepper. Cook in a dry pan until just browned. Set aside.
Combine rice with two cups of water and 1tbs zest from the lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring water to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 20 minutes and remove from heat until all water is absorbed.
Roughly chop tomatoes and onion. Place in food processor with lemon-pepper. Process until blended. Pour mixture into sauce pot and bring to a simmer. let cook until onion begins to turn sweet, about 15 minutes.
Go ahead and try both. What did you think? What kind of technique changes have you made to enhance your food?