Lime & Coriander Chicken with Rice & Manchego

Serves 8-10

Layers of rice, Mexican inspired chicken and fresh coriander, brought to the table in a large vat, is the easiest way to cook for a small crowd. Created by my sister who is a master of all things flavour and cooking for friends, here is my version. It has plenty of flavour as a stand alone dish but it’s all the little bowls of added extras that makes it a great food experience. To make life easy, you can make a couple of the extras and buy jars of ready made sides. For example you could whip up your own guacamole and a fresh, zesty salsa and also serve pickled jalapenos, hot sauces with a good vinegar and chilli kick, sour cream and corn chips. Add a cocktail or a Mexican beer or two and your evening is sorted.

NOTES

  • If you’re cooking this for friends, you can make all the elements in advance and simply reheat the chicken and rice just before guests eat, in the oven, at about 170 degrees Celsius until it is thoroughly hot.
  • The keys to this dish are seasoning and a punchy selection of flavours and texture.
  • Allowing guests to control their own level of chilli is also a good idea, by providing chillies and sauces on the side. As the chicken dish contains a good hit of brown sugar, it can handle the chilli powder without becoming too hot, however if your guests prefer mild food, you can reduce the ground chilli.

Ingredients

Lime & Coriander Chicken

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion
5 cloves garlic
800g chicken breast, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch coriander, stems and leaves washed thoroughly
1 zucchini, grated
2 tsp paprika
1-2 tsp ground chilli
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cummin
1 tsp dried oregano
freshly cracked salt & pepper
1/3 cup brown sugar
juice 3 limes
2 cans crushed tomatoes
2 cups white, long grain rice
200g manchego cheese, finely grated
juice 1 lime, extra
1/2 bunch fresh coriander leaves, washed thoroughly
2 limes quartered

GuAcAMOLE

2 ripe avocados
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
juice 1 lime
freshly cracked salt and pepper

FRESH SALSA

1 punnet grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 Lebanese cucumber, diced
1 cob fresh corn
3 radishes, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, very finely chopped
1/2 bunch coriander, leaves picked and washed
juice 1 lime
freshly cracked salt and pepper

TO SERVE

Extra sides such as sour cream, cornships, pickled jalapenos, a selection of hot sauces

Method

LIME & Coriander Chicken

  1. Place the rice and 3 cups of water into a medium saucepan and cook in the absorption method (If you prefer, cook the rice in a rice cooker or by boiling in water as you usually would.). Do this by bringing to the boil, then placing on a firmly fitted lid and turning the heat down to very low. Allow it to cook for about 12 minutes then take off the heat and set aside.
  2. Place a deep frypan or large saucepan over high heat and pour in a few tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and saute until golden.
  3. Add the garlic then place in the chicken evenly over the pan. Allow it to cook for at least 5 minutes or until it is golden underneath before stirring (once you stir it, it won’t brown at all and it’s this smokey caramelisation that adds so much flavour). Stir, then continue to cook until the chicken has turned white.
  4. Add the spices, zucchini, whole bunch of coriander stems and leaves and stir.
  5. Add a few cracks of salt and pepper, the lime juice, sugar and canned tomatoes.
  6. Cook for about 20 minutes, at a steady simmer, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has reduced a little.
  7. In a large roasting dish, place a layer of the rice.
  8. Spoon over the chicken mixture evenly, then sprinkle over the manchego cheese.
  9. Turn the oven on to 200 degees celcius and pop the roasting dish in the oven to cook for about 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.
  10. Just before serving, squeeze over the extra lime juice, sprinkle over coriander leaves and scatter on lime wedges, then bring to the table with a large spoon for guests to serve themselves.

GUACAMOLE

  1. Place all the ingredients in the bowl and mash roughly.
  2. Although this is best made just before serving, you can cover and place in the fridge for an hour or so.

FRESH SALSA 

  1. Layer all the ingredients, except the lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  2. If serving straight away, stir to combine, then season really well with lime juice, salt and pepper. If you are planning to serve in a few hours, cover and refrigerate, then season and stir just before serving.

To Serve

  1. Place all your sides in small bowls with spoons in them.
  2. Serve the lime and coriander chicken straight on the table, and scatter the sides throughout, to be passed around.