Friday, September 14, 2012

Picante Chicken and Rice

There are a few recipes that bring back fond childhood memories for all of us.  This is one of mine....  I can't remember if my mom found this recipe of the label of the Pace picante sauce, or if is was on from one of those every-ingredient-is-a-brand-name cookbooks, but man is this stuff go-od!

It started with her following the recipe (which I'm pretty sure is how she still makes it), but leave it to me, either being creative or cheap (depending on the night), to make substitutions and play around with cooking methods.  

This is the original recipe:
Sweet and Spicy Picante Chicken (from

prep: 15 minutes
bake: 20 minutes
serves: 4

1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves 
1 jar (16 ounces) Pace® Picante Sauce 
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar 
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard 
1 cup regular long-grain white rice, prepared according to package directions (about 3 cups)

Heat the oven to 400°F. Place the chicken into a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Stir the picante sauce, brown sugar and mustard in a small bowl. Pour the picante sauce mixture over the chicken.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve the chicken and sauce with the rice.
Last night's version; made with chicken leg quarters
(a whole leg/thigh in one piece)

Over the years I've tried all kinds of new things with this recipe, and it is *always* tasty!  Here are a few of the changes I've made:
  • organic salsa - just 'cause it tastes better to me (I bet it'd be good with homemade or home-canned salsa, too)
  • double the sauce, then there's enough for dipping if you like
  • brown rice or even quinoa instead of white rice
  • cubed chicken breasts (makes of quick-cooking!)
  • canned chicken breast, drained (even quicker cooking!!)
  • stove top cooking- use either sauteed, cubed chicken breast or canned chicken (drained) and just cook the sauce down until it starts to thicken
  • (last night's version) chicken leg quarters (takes longer to cook, but tastes phenomenal) ...this required baking, then removing the chicken from the sauce and cooking the sauce down further on the stove top, but it was totally worth the extra time/effort.  Delicious.
  • thighs or legs would work fine as well
...just remember to adjust cooking times accordingly for whatever cut of meat you use.
...and ALWAYS check the doneness (is that a word?) by using a thermometer to test the internal temperature of your meat - chicken should be cooked to 160º-180º F (I err on the side of caution and cook mine to to 180º).