Australia is starting to get there with the Mexican / Tex-Mex ingredients but from my reading of American food blogs it is clear that we are still way behind in terms of having exciting salsa. I know at my local supermarkets we have tomato salsas in varying temperatures and that is it. And they aren’t the most flavour packed thing out there.
In this recipe for Cheesy Mexican Couscous Chicken from Jennifer at Peanut Butter and Peppers, Jennifer mentions using chipotle garlic salsa. Even the name of the salsa makes me want to drool. The recipe looked super easy to make, was quick and good in terms of the calories it contains. My adaptation only has about 330 calories a serve and is filling.
And it was just as easy and quick as it sounded. Using couscous certainly helps as that is such a quick carb to make. I am not even sure you would call it cooking. Jennifer did cook her couscous but the couscous I get at the shops basically says to add stock or water and let sit. I nearly always add chicken stock as I like the extra flavour it gives to the couscous.
I don’t think I would have thought to add cheese to couscous – I associate couscous with middle eastern recipes that tend away from cheese and more towards lovely rich sauces. But the cheese and couscous go surprisingly well together.
I have lightly adapted Jennifer’s recipe to add some extra spices to the dish to make up for my poor salsa options – I must find some good salsa recipes. I have used the homemade sazon seasoning from Skinnytaste to do that and keep the Mexican vibe of this recipe and create cheesy sazon chicken couscous.
I also chopped up my chicken before I cooked it – I couldn’t see the point in cooking then chopping, particularly if you have to trim your tenders first. That would mean two chopping boards, one for the raw chicken and one for the cooked chicken as you seriously don’t want to put cooked chicken where you have had raw chicken. Unless of course you want some food poisoning in you future. There could well be a good reason that I am just missing, but I tried the recipe both ways and couldn’t see a difference.
I often say the garnish is optional as I am normally including it to make the photo pretty rather than for its culinary benefits. But in this case the coriander (cilantro) makes sure the dish is not an overpowering cheesy tomato flavour. It is a nice surprise when you hit the coriander (cilantro) and its slightly metallic flavour. If you hate coriander (cilantro) then skip it and the recipe will still be good but I think it is better with than without.
- 1/4 cup of couscous
- 1/2 cup of chicken stock (or as suggested on couscous packet)
- Olive oil spray
- 120g of skinless boneless chicken breast cut into one inch cubes.
- 3/4 tsp of sazon seasoning
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup of salsa
- 1/4 cup of shredded cheese (I used kraft's mexican cheese blend)
- 1 tbs of coriander (cilantro), shredded
- Cook the couscous as per the instructions on the packet. Mine says to put the couscous in half a cup of water or stock, stir well and let sit for about 5 minutes. I recommend using the stock rather than water to add flavour to the recipe.
- While the couscous is cooking, put the chicken in a small bowl and toss with the sazon seasoning until it is evenly coated and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat an oven proof skillet on medium to medium high heat and spray with the olive oil spray.
- Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.
- Once the chicken is cooked add the salsa and cooked couscous and make sure everything is well combined and the couscous has warmed through, a minute or two.
- Turn the grill (broiler) on a medium heat - about 180C (350F)
- Top the chicken mix with the shredded cheese and pop the skillet under the grill (broiler)
- Cook until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.
- Garnish with coriander (cilantro)