This Southwest-inspired recipe is a spicy twist on the concept of a traditional chicken and rice casserole. It’s made with boneless chicken breasts coated with a zesty mix of cornmeal, breadcrumbs, and a Southwest seasoning blend that’s served over a medley of white rice, corn, scallions, and cilantro.
Tips for Making Shallow-Fried Chicken Breasts
- Prepare the chicken: If your chicken breasts still have the tenderloins attached, remove and reserve them for another use. One at a time, place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and gently pound them to a thickness of about 1/2-inch.
- Prepare the egg dip: Whisk egg and milk together in a pie plate or other shallow dish. The ratio is 1 tablespoon milk to 1 large egg.
- Prepare the crumb coating: Combine the breadcrumbs with the cornmeal, 1 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread the mixture on a dinner plate or sheet of wax paper.
- Coat the chicken in crumbs: Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dip in the egg mixture and turn once or twice to coat. Allow the excess egg to drip off, then lay the chicken on the bed of crumbs and use your fingers to press gently into the mixture to be sure the crumbs adhere. Repeat on the other side.
- Fry the chicken: Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with about 1/8-inch of vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add a pinch of bread crumbs to the pan and as soon as they begin to sizzle, the pan is pre-heated. Add the chicken in a single layer and fry until the crumb coating is golden brown and the interior of the chicken is no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
- Watch the temperature: Every stove is different and you don’t want your crumb coating to burn while the chicken cooks all the way through. Check the bottom of each piece after 1 minute in the pan, and if the crumbs already browning, the heat is too high. Carefully turn the chicken over and reduce the heat.
- Handle the chicken gently: Use a thin spatula to turn the chicken and be careful so as not to damage the crumb coating.
- Check for doneness with a thermometer: Use an instant-read thermometer to check the chicken for doneness (165°F). This way you won’t need to cut it and let the juices run out.
- Let the chicken stand before serving: Place cooked chicken on a paper towel-lined plate and gently blot to absorb the oil from frying. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.
How to Make Southwest Seasoning Blend
Combine the following spices:
- 1-1/2 parts sweet paprika
- 1 part salt
- 1 part ground cumin
- 1 part garlic powder
- 1/2 part onion powder
- 1/2 part freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 part cayenne (or more to taste)
Southwest-Spiced Chicken and Rice
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons Southwest seasoning blend, see notes
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the rice:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- Lightly pound the chicken pieces between 2 sheets of plastic wrap until they are a uniform thickness of about 1/2-inch. Lightly season both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Next, prepare the rice. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 2 minutes. Add the rice and toss to coat with the butter, then add the broth, increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from the heat, stir in the corn and scallions, cover to keep warm and set aside.
- While the rice cooks, combine the cornmeal, breadcrumbs and seasoning mix in a shallow dish (a pie plate works well).
- Whisk the egg and milk together in a separate shallow dish. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg mixture, turning several times to coat. Allow the excess egg to drip off, then coat the chicken in the cornmeal mixture, pressing gently to ensure that the crumbs adhere.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook, turning several times, until the exterior is crispy and the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
- 1-1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)