Chicken South of the Border

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Posted by Robin

If I’m pressed to name my favorite entrée (let’s be real; my favorite food is a tie between several kinds of dessert), this has to be it.  I think it’s beg-for-it-for-your-birthday level good — and I’m pretty sure I did just that a few times as a kid.

This is a very Tex-Mex kind of dish.  But what could be better for Cinco de Mayo, the holiday mooostly celebrated in the US?

Speaking of celebrating, this dish does pair quite nicely with a margarita on the rocks. I may have to cook this favorite myself now (most of the time), but being a grown up does have some perks!

Before we get into the recipe, there’s something you have to know.  Cheese whiz is part of this recipe.  Before you run screaming for the hills, just hear me out.  I know it’s not usually the most appealing ingredient, but I promise it’s perfect for this dish.  You could use Velveeta, but I tell you it’s just not the same (I’ve tried it and was disappointed).  Also, you’ll have such great 80s memories flash back — Fastback tennis shoes (somebody out there remembers those; don’t try to deny it), plus jellies shoes, mix tapes, and leg warmers, oh my!

Ingredients for Cornmeal Fried Chicken:

4 chicken cutlets, pounded flat

1 c. flour

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. cumin

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. salt

6 beaten eggs

1 to 1 ½ c. cornmeal

Ingredients for Salsa:

2 c. diced canned tomatoes, drained (which will probably be about 1.5 cans once drained)

1 small white onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. lime juice

1-3 jalapeños, diced (depending on heat pref. – I use 3)

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. garlic salt

¼ c. cilantro, chopped (optional—I love cilantro)

Other Ingredients:  

1 15 oz. jar of cheese whiz

Vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions:

For salsa, in a medium bowl, start with diced canned tomatoes, drained. Add onion, green pepper, garlic, jalapeños, lime juice, salt, garlic salt, and cilantro (if desired).  Refrigerate.

Combine flour and seasoning in a medium (cereal bowl size is fine for these) bowl.  In a medium sized separate bowl, beat eggs slightly.  In a separate medium sized bowl, place cornmeal.  Set aside.

Trim any fat from chicken.  Place vegetable oil, about a half inch deep, in a deep frying pan on medium heat.

To coat each piece of chicken to prepare for cooking, dredge through flour mixture, egg, flour mix again, egg again, then cornmeal.  Gently place directly into hot oil.  Cook a few minutes on each side — until cooked through and cornmeal is a nice golden color.  Try not to turn it too often, as you don’t want to knock off that delicious batter. (Chicken should reach 165 degrees in center.)

As you cook chicken, set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

Microwave a few servings of cheese whiz in a bowl, heating to liquid for 20 seconds at a time, then stirring each time.  (Do not look directly at the cheese whiz at this stage until it’s fully melted if you can avoid it.  Not pretty as a solid, but it will be good on your chicken once it’s melted. Really.) 🙂

To serve, plate chicken.  Spoon the piping hot cheese whiz over chicken.  Top with salsa.  Enjoy the magic.  And maybe a margarita.

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