Real Food: Santa Fe Chicken

by Anne Bennett on October 12, 2009

By George, I think she’s got it! I’ve finally figured out how to adapt recipes from the cookbook, “Glorious One-Pot Meals”, by Elizabeth Yarnell, without overcooking them. It took about a half-dozen tries before I got it through my thick skull that my timing was way off. This cooking method, while almost laughably easy, is not forgiving. When you can smell the aroma of cooked food, as the author states, you wait three more minutes and then pull the pot out of the oven. I mean, we’re talking 450 degrees here. Don’t be taking a walk with the dog while this is in the oven (unless you have a very small dog).

Is it worth trying? Absolutely, if you follow the simple aroma-three minute-rule. I found that I could smell food at about 28 to 30 minutes, but mind you, I’ve got a convection oven. When I waited a few minutes more and then took it out of the oven, it worked just right.


Just out of the oven, and on the plate.

This recipe is a definite keeper, especially if you like spicy, Tex-Mex food. Since there’s no cheese or lard, like the fare in typical Mexican restaurants, you can enjoy a taste-full and guilt-less dinner.

1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lbs. chicken breast tenders
1 4-oz. can green chiles, or 1/4 cup salsa
1/2 green and/or red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch strips
8 oz. frozen corn (1/2 of a 16-oz. bag)
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained, (OR 1 10-oz. can Rotel Tomatoes!)
Pickled jalapeno peppers (optional but good)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. (I put a thermometer in my oven to make sure it was accurate.)

Spray the inside of a 2-quart cast-iron Dutch oven with nonstick spray. (My Dutch oven is a Le Creuset.)

Spread the black beans over the bottom of the pot. Arrange the green onions on top of the beans, then add the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter the green chiles or salsa over the chicken.

Add the bell pepper, corn, drained tomatoes (use Rotel if you want to kick it up a notch) in separate layers, ending with the tomatoes. Season again with S & P.

Cover and bake about 30-35 minutes, or until 3 minutes after the smell of a fully cooked meal escapes from the oven. Serve immediately. Your oven may take longer. Elizabeth says to bake for up to 45 minutes.

Come to think of it, there’s no law saying you have to cook this in a hot oven. You could also make it on your stovetop in a nonstick skillet. I would saute the green onion and peppers first, then add the chicken and brown it, then add everything else. Why not? You could also add some grated low-fat cheddar cheese on top, but let’s not go gilding the lily too much here!

Serves 2 to 3 (If your husband is a big eater, give him more and have the leftovers for lunch next day.)

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