Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chicken Fajita Skewers w/ Spicy Aioli Sauce Over Mexican-Style Brown Rice

I try to save money by using a good protein sale as inspiration for dinner. Today at my local market, chicken thighs were on sale for $1.29 a pound. My thoughts went straight to the comfort of fajitas, but to skip on having to buy tortillas and instead use the brown rice I already had on hand, I came up with these fajita skewers on a whim. Finally arriving home with veggies from local produce stand, Johnny D's, I decided to crack into a lost PBR and use my beer as a marinade base. Cheers!

    Ingredients for Fajita Skewers
  • 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 orange peppers
  • dozen cherry tomatoes
  • sweet onion (vidalia)
  • olive oil
  • oregano
  • fresh ground salt & pepper
  • cooking spray
  • 6" wooden skewers *soaked for at least 30 mins*

    Ingredients for Marinade
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • half can lager beer
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves
  • oregano
  • few shakes chipotle chili powder
  • fresh ground salt & pepper

    Ingredients for Mexican Brown Rice
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce (I used already seasoned)
  • packet of low sodium chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice
  • 2 cups water

    Ingredients for Spicy Aioli Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • juice of 1 lime
  • few shakes chipotle chili powder
  • few shakes vinegar/cayenne hot sauce (I use Franks)

Plan of Attack: When you've got a lot of have elements to dinner it's good to have a game plan. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. I recommend marinading the chicken first. Then getting the rice set to cook before returning to the skewers.

First, marinade the chicken. Cut chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Add all marinade ingredients into the bowl except beer, and toss chicken pieces to coat completely. Add enough beer to just cover the chicken pieces. Cover and set aside to marinade for 20-30 minutes.

Next, get the Mexican-Style brown rice cooking. Saute garlic in a medium-sized pot in olive oil for 30 seconds at a medium-low heat. Take care not to let the garlic burn. Add onion and saute until onion becomes opaque, approx 5 minutes. Add rice and saute another 5 minutes. Add water, bouillon and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low setting, cover and cook rice according to packaging. (I cooked my rice 45 minutes). Once all liquid is absorbed fluff rice with a fork.

While the chicken is finishing its marinade & the rice is cooking, prep your veggies to be skewered. Cut the onion into 1-inch pieces. Remove stems, seeds and membrane from bell peppers and chop into 1-inch pieces. In a large mixing bowl, add veggie bites to cherry tomatoes and toss with olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.

You are finally ready to make your skewers! When using 6" skewers and using a mix or veg and chicken, I think using 2-3 chicken pieces per skewer is plenty. To keep everything in place, cap the ends of your skewers with bell pepper pieces, curving to hug a piece of chicken. Here's a sample skewer to prevent crowding: green pepper, chicken, onion, tomato, onion, chicken, orange bell pepper. Place finished skewers in a roasting dish(es) spritzed with cooking spray and transfer to oven. Cook 10 minutes, then flip each skewer over & cook for an another 10 minutes.

While the skewers are cooking, whip up this super fast Spicy Aioli Sauce. Add all the ingredients listed above into a small bowl. Whisk together with a fork until smooth, and you can drizzle sauce with spoon. If mixture is still too thick, add more lime juice. Taste and add more heat if desired - more chipotle powder for a smokey flavor, or more cayenne sauce for a vinegar tang.

Serve 2-3 skewers over a bed of mexican-style rice and drizzle with aioli sauce. To store, remove chicken & veg from skewers. This dinner could also be easily adapted to a fun appetizer. Try making mini skewers with one piece of chicken, onion, and tomato sandwiched with green & orange bell pepper pieces. Double or triple aioli sauce to make a fun dip for guests!

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