Cravings for Chipotle

I made a huge mistake when I went to the States for work last year – I went to a Chipotle Mexican Grill branch for lunch. I remember suffering from a particularly awful bout of jetlag, was close to being sick at one point but I just needed some food inside my belly before I went back to my hotel room and passed out. There was a Chipotle just around the corner from where I was staying in SF, and I walked over… and boy oh boy, despite how I felt, I finished everything!

Now here’s why it was a mistake: I live in Malaysia – all the way on the other side of the world from a Chipotle… the only thing close to this here is Chili’s, and well… come on, it just doesn’t compare. So what’s a girl to do but try to recreate some of their recipes?

Lucky for me, there’s no shortage of helpful recipe hackers on Pinterest and I pulled together various recipes to form what is fast becoming one of my favourite meals of all time. Also, this is definitely one of my top 3 recipes for chicken!

Pollo en Adobo with Cilantro Lime Quinoa and Cilantro Lime vinaigrette
I don’t know which one of these 3 components I love most! I lie, it’s the chook. 

The Chicken:

  • 4 – 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Juice of half a lime
  • a handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced (use a fork!)
  • Fajita seasoning*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Slice the chicken breasts in half across so you get thinner strips and they cook faster
  2. Mix the lime juice, cilantro, chipotle peppers, fajita seasoning and olive oil and marinade the chicken for about an hour
  3. Preheat the oven at 180°C, then cook your chicken breasts on a foil covered baking tray for about 15 minutes
  4. Remove from heat, allow to rest before slicing into chunks to serve

The Quinoa (you can easily substitute this for rice):

  • 1 cup quinoa/rice
  • 2 cups water (adjust according to rice – see notes below)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro
  1. Cook the quinoa or rice in the water, with salt and the juices from the lime and lemon
  2. Once cooked, fluff up and stir in your chopped cilantro

The Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette (pictured above)

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 handfuls cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes (or 1/2 a lemon if you prefer)
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Blend it all together with an immersion blender and pour over the rice and chicken

For my meal prepped lunches, I also sauteed some red onions and green and red peppers, throw in some toasted tinned corn kernels and rinsed black beans (also from a tin). I can’t for the life of me remember what I put in the peppers and onions, but both were quite basic and I tend to use an olive oil and butter base with some chili powder, salt and pepper. Sorry! Will update if I find my notes!

*Fajita seasoning: you can use the pre-packed stuff, which I do in a pinch, or save some money and make your own batch as below:
1 tbsp each of:

  • Chili powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground oregano
  • Smoked paprika
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp each of salt and pepper

Notes for rice:
There are 3 main types of rice (that are most common in home cooking) – long grain (like Basmathi and Jasmine rice), short grain (usually like sushi rice, arborio, Thai sticky rice, etc) and brown rice (it’s … brown). When cooking your rice, your ratio of water to rice and cooking times will vary depending on which type you’re going with.
First tip – read the package for instructions. Usually can’t go wrong there.
If there are no instructions, I tend to go with the following ratios and cooking times:

  • Long-grain rice: 1 cup rice:2 cups water; I usually cook it for 15 minutes covered on low after the initial boil
  • Short-grain rice: 1 cup rice:1 cup+2 tbsp water; cook covered and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook for another 5 minutes. THEN leave it covered off the heat for 10 minutes – DON’T PEEK
  • Brown rice (long-grain): 1 cup rice:2 cups water; bring to boil, then reduce heat to a very low simmer and cover and cook for 45 minutes. Take the rice off the heat and let it continue to cook in its own steam for another 10 minutes
I shall, of course, caveat this by saying… I’m no expert rice maker and it’s touch and go for me most times! 
If you have a rice cooker, well bully for you! I have yet to get one despite living in this house for 2 years and being Asian. This really is due to the fact that my kitchen is tiny and I only have 2 power points – don’t ask me, my theory is the people who designed this apartment building don’t cook. 
Looking forward to moving into our new place and having a kitchen to be my very own playground!

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