Question: What do you do when you crave smoky, zesty south-of-the-border flavors like cumin and ancho chili pepper but want an alternative to dumping all those spices into a big vat of chili?
Answer: Ancho chili chicken thighs!!
I found a great recipe on thestayathomechef.com which features such delectable offerings.
I followed this recipe pretty closely and thought the small pat of butter on each piece was a really nice touch as it crisped up the chicken and made each thigh that much more mouth-watering.
A couple of adjustments I made:
– I wanted to make a bigger batch but ran out of thighs so I cut two chicken breasts in half so they’d match the size of the thighs and those worked beautifully as well!
– I also swapped out cayenne pepper for red chili flakes which gave the finished product a nice, hearty, well-rounded kick!
– Bonus tip: To ensure the crispness on of the chicken, I finished it off in the broiler. But check the chicken often in there – maybe once a minute. You don’t want those delicious seasonings on top to burn!
These little beauties came out crisp and juicy and flavorful and quickly got devoured!
Now for the side dish…
Mexican-inspired food can be a little daunting in the side dish department since non #NSNG grains like rice, beans, and corn are often featured next to the entree.
So I went with some off the charts umami-heavy fajita veggies!
This side goes beyond sautéing some peppers and onions in a pan.
The recipe I found HERE makes the veggies taste like a highlight of the meal instead of just a boring old veggie that you’re stuck with.
Here are a couple of tricks…
- Make sure to adequately season the veggies with plenty of chili pepper, cumin, garlic, smoked paprika and salt. (I also added a splash of fresh lime to finish it off.)
- Once everything is sautéed, see that you put a nice char on the peppers and onions by either finishing on a high heat OR doing what I did and finishing in the broiler so parts of the skin crisp up nicely. (Quickly though or you’ll burn your masterpiece!)
- Add the mushrooms AFTER the peppers and onions are pretty cooked through so things don’t get mushy or watery!
That’s about it! Have fun making this delish Mexican-inspired meal for family and friends and don’t forget to make enough for seconds. (You’re gonna want seconds!)