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Garlic-Lime Chicken with Cafe Rio’s Cilantro Rice

19 September 2008

(This post originally published here as part of the Whip It Up challenge)

You know you are a real Utahan when you crave Cafe Rio fortnightly and will stop at (nearly) nothing to fulfill your craving. Out-of-staters, Cafe Rio is perhaps the best Nouveau Mexican restaurant in the history of Americanized Mexican food. Sort of along the lines of Chipotle, but Cafe Rio burritos are FAR superior and they also have these a-MAY-zing salads that I–and a lot of other “natives”–fantasize about quite regularly. I will be making a few other Cafe Rio recipes (Pork Barbacoa, Creamy Tomatillo-Ranch Dressing) over the next week or two, but I thought I’d start out on the easy-side with their Cilantro Rice. And because I cannot subsist on rice alone, I dug up a garlic-lime-cilantro vinaigrette to slather over a little grilled chicken.

This recipe makes about 6 cups of absolutely delectable, flavorful rice that would go with just about any grilled, Mexi-dish. If you have Real Kitchen Skillz–which I do not–I’m sure you can cut this down to a more manageable batch size. However, as far as I’m concerned, extra rice will motivate me to set aside 18 hours of crock-pot time for the famed Pork Barbacoa, which will be photographed and shared, I promise. The garlic-lime vinaigrette on the chicken is a cinch to make and gives the chicken a tangy hint of citrus combined with the oniony flavors of the cilantro. It takes 3 minutes to put together and can keep in the fridge for a couple of days. I brushed my chicken with a little olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit of cumin. All-in-all, this Whip It Up experiment is perhaps the best full-meal I’ve cooked in weeks.

The recipies will be after the break; here’s the nitty gritties:

  • Total Prep-Time: About 10 minutes, although a food processor would cut down your chopping time significantly. The rice takes about 30 minutes to cook, which is plenty of time to get your Grill on for the chicken, or white fish, if that’s what you prefer.
  • Was the recipe easy to follow: Yes. Both require a bit of chopping and then dump everything together to combine.
  • Are the ingredients easy to find: Yes. I did need to make a special trip to the grocery store for cilantro, but I had everything else in my fridge.
  • Do you need special equipment: No, but again, a food processor would make things easier.
  • Does the end result taste delicious: Yes, it was delish! And I will enjoy it for lunch the rest of the week. (6 cups of cooked rice will go a very long way.)
  • Would I make it again: Absolutely.

Cafe Rio Cilantro Rice

3 cups. water
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 can (4 oz) green chilies
4 tsp. chicken bouillon
1 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. salt
1 TB butter
3 cups rice, uncooked

Bring water to a boil in large pot, add all ingredients. Cook covered for 30 minutes, or until rice is done.

Garlic-Lime Vinaigrette

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dried red-pepper flakes
1/3 c. olive oil
2 TB chopped cilantro

Whisk lime juice, garlic, salt & pepper. Slowly add olive oil while stirring. Add cilantro. Serve over grilled chicken, white fish, or whatever else suits your fancy.

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