The summer Robert and I were married, I was finishing up my physics pre-requisite for graduate school and my schedule allowed me extra time to cook for us each night. Those were the days. I was able to work out every morning and I happily perused cookbooks and magazines for menu ideas. I also consulted with my mother a lot as I tried to figure out my way around the kitchen and she introduced me to this recipe. She’d made it a few times before and it was a delicious hit. Feeling confident, I collected the ingredients I needed. I was happy to find that I already had everything in our apartment. The chicken breasts I was using were frozen, but I figured if I allowed them to thaw for a few hours, I would be in good shape by the time I was ready to make dinner.
Fast forward a few hours and I followed the recipe to a tee. The kitchen smelled wonderful as the food baked in the oven and it looked gorgeous as I ceremoniously placed dinner on our table. We each served ourselves a piece of chicken and dug in. A few bites in, Robert turned his fork upside down and examined the piece of chicken pierced through its prongs closely. “This chicken is really chewy,” he said, “is there something different about it?” I assured him that it was the usual chicken I always purchased and I took his plate to check it out myself. I cut the chicken in half and scraped the salsa away to reveal a delightfully raw piece of chicken. The center was still cold and nowhere near the safe temperature recommended. My heart sank and I apologized profusely. Bert reassured me we could just pop the chicken in the microwave, which we did, but we both had not-surprisingly lost our appetites by that point. On the bright side- neither of us ended up with any food-borne illnesses and I learned a very valuable lesson in defrosting chicken that day.
Here we are nearly eight years later and I still make this dish a few times a year. Every time I do, it seems like one of us will bring up that chewy chicken I served just a few weeks after we became a family. We laugh and then we both furtively check our chicken to make sure it is indeed cooked through.
Blackened Chicken with Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Yield: 4 generous servings
- 15 oz can (1 1/2 cups) black beans, drained
- 15 oz can (1 1/2 cups) corn, drained
- 1 cup salsa
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Olive or coconut oil
- Sour cream, green onions, avocado, tortilla chips (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the black beans, corn, and salsa in a 9×13 inch casserole dish. Set aside.
2. Combine the chili powder, garlic, salt, and cumin in a bowl and pour into a thin layer on a plate. Dip each of the chicken breasts in the spice mixture and use your fingers to “massage” the rub evenly on each piece of chicken.
3. Heat olive or coconut over medium-high heat in a large saucepan until hot. Carefully add each piece of chicken to the pan and sear the chicken on each side, until blackened, about 2-3 minutes each. Transfer the pieces of chicken to the casserole dish with the black bean and corn salsa. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and top with shredded cheese and other toppings, as desired.
Source: Taste of Home