Home-Cooked: Salsa Chicken

Just a few years ago, I was a graduate student on a tight budget. During this time, I lived with my close friend, Gillian.  Our apartment (cleverly named The "G" Spot) was full of laughter, lip sync duets and cooking lessons. A low-cost and tasty dish that was often served in our home was Salsa Chicken. The recipe was simple, involving baked chicken breast tossed in taco seasoning and topped with jarred salsa.

Flash forward five years and I am a working professional with a few extra dollars in my pocket. In tribute to Gillsy, and our time living together, I decided it was time to upgrade this nostalgic dish using fresh ingredients for salsa, my own special mix of seasonings (versus a pre-mixed packet) and pan-seared chicken thighs. I must admit that the newer version proved to be much more flavorful!

My new and improved Salsa Chicken recipe can be found below:

Salsa Chicken Recipe

Prep Time: 10 Minutes (Salsa)  / 5 minutes (Chicken) |  Cook Time: 35 Minutes  (Chicken) | Total Time: 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the Salsa

  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 3 Tomatoes
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Small White Onion
  • 1/2 Cup White Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • Chili Powder, Cumin and Salt (to taste)

For the Chicken

  • 4 Bone-In Chicken Thighs
  • 2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Instructions for Salsa

1. Dice peppers, tomatoes, garlic and white onion and combine in a large bowl.

2. Add white vinegar and  lime juice. Mix well with chopped vegetables.

3. Sprinkle chili powder, cumin and salt until you reach your desired flavor.

4.  Cover with plastic wrap and set to the side while you prepare the chicken breast.

Instructions for Chicken

1. Preheat Oven to 450 Degrees.

2. Place chicken thighs into a 1 gallon plastic bag, and add all seasonings. Secure the bag and shake well to ensure all pieces are evenly coated.

3. Heat olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot. 

4. Place seasoned chicken into skillet skin side down and cook for two minutes before reducing to medium-high heat. Continue cooking for another 10 - 12 minutes (rearranging chicken occasionally to distribute heat) until the skin is golden brown.

5. Transfer chicken to oven (still in cast-iron skillet) and cook for another five minutes. 

6. After five minutes, flip the chicken over and cook for another 10 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. 

7. Once done remove chicken from the oven and let cool for five minutes.

8. While the chicken cools,  top chicken with a generous helping of fresh salsa. 

This dish is great when paired with yellow rice or sautéed spinach!  Happy eating!