30 Minute Thursdays: Chicken Cazador, a spicy Mexican take on Chicken Cacciatore

Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I follow Rachael Ray’s recipes to a T. More often than not, though, these 30 Minute Thursday posts become competitions with myself to see how far I can twist a meal and still call it a 30 Minute Thursday dish. If I’m being honest here, I think this one just about takes the cake. What was once a Chicken Cacciatore Sub is now Chicken Cazador, a low-carb, Mexican-inspired dish of spices and flavor. No Italian influence, no sandwich bread – chicken is just about the only ingredient I left alone in this. I should also mention that “cazador” is the term a quick google search unearthed for “hunter” in Spanish, and since Chicken Cacciatore refers to the Italian for Hunter’s Chicken, I thought it would be appropriate. As always, please do not bludgeon me for any brutalization of the language I may have created (but if you do know Spanish and do happen to know that I butchered it, I’m definitely open to be educated).

Now, about this meal – this really good, really spicy meal. It’s easy – it can even be a one pot dinner, though I added a second pan to sauté up some spinach to serve as a bed for it. It’s also ridiculously delicious, with hot enchilada sauce, plenty of vegetables, and slices of really well-cooked, actually juicy chicken breasts. This would also taste fantastic rolled up into a tortilla, if low-carb isn’t something you go for – I would just reduce the sauce a smidge if you plan to eat it that way (or just bring lots of napkins to the table). Other additions like greek yogurt/sour cream would be delicious, too. I mean really, the sky is the limit – if I could take a chicken cacciatore sub and transform it so drastically and still have it be wonderful, then you can certainly make small changes here or there to suit your preferences, too. I’m all about mixing it up and making a recipe your own, so take the bull by the horns, and go!

Chicken Cazador, adapted from Rachael Ray’s Classic 30 Minute Meals
Yield: 4 servings

The Ingredients
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
chili powder, to taste
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 white mushrooms, sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
½ - 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 red onion, sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
⅓ pound cheese of your choice
8 cups baby spinach

The Method
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan set over medium-high. Meanwhile, rub the chicken breasts with the chili powder, as much or as little as you like depending on your heat preference. Cook the chicken in the pan, 6 minutes per side, then set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan you just used for the chicken. Once hot, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and oregano. Season with pepper and sauté 5 minutes before stirring in the enchilada sauce and lowering the heat to medium. Be sure to scrape up the bits at the bottom of the pan.

Slice the chicken breasts and arrange atop the sauce and vegetable mixture. Allow to heat through, then sprinkle with cilantro and the cheese. Cook until the cheese has melted (you can cover the pan to hasten this process if you like, or even place the pan under the broiler to get a more golden-brown finish). While you wait for the cheese to melt, wash the spinach and just barely squeeze dry. Add to a large pan coated with non-stick spray, and cook, covered, over medium heat until just wilted. Serve the chicken and sauce mixture on top of the spinach.

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