Cooking for a picky husband is always challenging, especially during COVID-19 when I am doing my best to work with ingredients still in my pantry/freezer/refrigerator. He’s a Midwestern born-and-raised meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, but in trying to restrain his desire for red meat, I try to mix in chicken dishes, and to expand his tastes with international flavors. With all this is mind, my meal for the day was a Spanish-styled chicken, doctored black beans from a can, and Spanish yellow rice. (Reminder: I don’t measure, but will try to give you an idea of what I do.)
4 chicken thighs, bone in and with skin (because that is what I had available and I am one of those who loves crispy skin)
Badia complete seasoning (or your own mixture of spices)
Splash of olive oil, maybe tablespoon or two
Roughly a ¼ cup of Mojo marinade liquid. If you don’t have Mojo, can substitute with a bit or orange and lemon juices, and then flavor with some minced fresh or powered garlic.
Either a gallon bag or a bowl
Yellow rice (but if you prefer white, use it)
Small onion or ½ of a medium one, diced
Small can of diced green chilis (and use to your liking).
Tomatoes, diced (to your liking)
Can of black beans (dried beans you’ve prepped would even be better)
Shredded cheddar cheese
I like to marinade/season all my chicken and meats for as many hours as possible. If I know well in advance what I’m going to make, it could be a good 24 hours. The chicken this time marinated about six hours. Place the thighs, olive oil, Badia complete seasoning and Mojo liquid in bag (or a bowl and cover). Make sure the ingredients are mixed around and place in the fridge.
The rice and beans can be done ahead. I have a rule-of-thumb about cooking rice that I learned from my mom and she from hers. I place the rice in small pot, put in water up to my first forefinger knuckle from the top of the rice, cover and set to medium-high. As soon as it starts to bubble, reduce heat to low-simmer for at least 10 minutes. After that I double check the rice is the texture I like. If not tender enough, add a teaspoon or two of water, recover and keep it on heat at least another five minutes. Repeat if needed, but I doubt that will be necessary.
Meanwhile, pour black beans into a saucepan. I drained the beans a good bit (but then my husband who usually likes things drier, asked what happened to all the bean “sauce”). Add the onion, green chilies and tomato pieces. Heat through. When ready to serve, top with the shredded cheddar cheese (don’t overdo the cheese, but it does add color and another layer of flavor).
Drain the chicken from the marinade. I warmed a black cast iron skillet with the olive oil over medium and placed the chicken thighs fat-side down. In order to keep them juicy, I covered the pan. Cook about 10 minutes on each side. Check to be sure they’re not pink inside. I would have served the chicken on the side and maybe poured the (looser-made) black beans over the rice, but especially during COVID-19, keeping my husband Russ happy is extra important. He doesn’t like to eat chicken on the bone, so I cut up all the chicken into bite-sized pieces on a separate dish.
(Point of fact: I studiously cook towards the guest/s. I will alter ingredients or cooking style based on diets, allergies and preferences.)
Once the chicken is removed from the pan, dump out the excess oil. (I put it in the empty bean can to cool first.) I added a half-cup of water, scraped up the leavings, and stirred over low heat until smooth like a rich brown gravy. Then I poured all the chicken pieces and rice into the pan and blended, which did darken the rice.
The only thing we added to the meal was a white Italian wine, a Zorzettig sauvignon. It seemed like champagne that had mellowed to a fizz, but very light and airy. Accompanied as a mouth cooler for the spices of the two dishes.
Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries. She is an active member of ILEA and MPI and is now serving on the 2019 – 2020 MPI Global Advisory Board for The Meeting Professional Magazine for the fourth consecutive year. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. Karen@KarenKuzsel.com; www.KarenKuzsel.com; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady. Food photos for this series by Karen Kuzsel.