I am generally a predictable creature – one with habits that are hard to break. Some may call them ruts. There are recipes that I fall back on time and time again. And that’s ok because I’m fine with eating the same thing over and over again. But sometimes it’s nice to change things up.
But let me start this story properly. There was a night last week where H had been sick the previous day, so I was being extra cautious on what to feed her. I’d been brought up with the idea of the BRAT diet, and while it may no longer be in vogue, I still think it’s a valuable tool for someone who has a delicate tummy or a history of recurring stomach bugs in the day or two following sickness. So I had decided to make a big batch of brown rice which I could give part of to H, and use the rest for dinners for E, the Boy and myself. Well, the chicken that I had put in to cook wasn’t going to be ready before E’s bedtime, so I improvised and pulled some veggie crumbles out of the freezer which are kind of the perfect “make into anything” protein supplement for a meal. I dug through the fridge to see what else we had, and was struck by a brainwave: burrito bowl.
You know – the kind you get at Chipotle, with rice on the bottom, but no tortilla. I had cheese, sour cream, and guacamole and it was kind of perfect. Thinking back now, all I would have needed was lettuce and the corn salsa to match what Chipotle would serve me. But all these things I’ve mentioned -cheese, sour cream, guac, lettuce and salsa – they’re all the kind of things that a lot of us keep in our fridge anyways. How had I not thought to combine them before?
So after the girls went to bed, I started thinking about what I could do with our chicken breast and realized – why can’t we have burrito bowls too? After all, there’s no rule that you have to use (fake) ground beef! Chicken is definitely an option. So what I did was cut the chicken into nice bite-size (ok, slightly too big for bite-size, but this was my first time!) pieces, layer them on top of warm brown rice, and then add other ingredients I already had. It was magical.
I hesitate to even call this a recipe, but as I handed a bowl to the Boy, he asked what I was going to call it. My quick answer was “Not-Chipotle Burrito Bowl”, but I don’t see why I need to even qualify it! Burrito bowls have existed long before Chipotle did, and while I may copy many aspects of their format, it’s not a copyrighted recipe.
I’m also not writing out the recipe for the baked chicken breast. The Kitchn does such an excellent job. All I will say is that instead of adding in lemon wedges, I just dump a bunch of lemon juice in the bottom of the pan – enough to create a thin layer that usually becomes slightly burned and flavorful for putting back on top of the chicken or on rice or whatever. Otherwise, it’s a perfect recipe, and an easy one to do when you haven’t even thawed your chicken breasts all the way!
Chicken Burrito Bowl
Yield: 2 bowls
Baked chicken breast, 1 for every two people
Cooked Brown Rice, about 2 cups (1 cup each)
Toppings (optional; mix and match as you please):
Mexican shredded cheese
Beans (I wouldn’t add these, but this is your bowl)
Tajín to sprinkle on top
Start cooking chicken breasts. This will take about 45 min – an hour, but it will be worth it. These things turn out perfectly every time. The recipe can make more than 1 chicken breast at a time, and I would recommend it – you can always find a way to use up a nice chicken breast.
Start making brown rice around the time you put the chicken in the oven. This way they’ll be done around the same time.
When chicken is done (no pink in the middle!), slice into small bite-sized pieces. If your breasts are large (haha), you’ll want to slice a couple times length-wise before cutting into small pieces.
Add a generous layer of rice to the bottom of a bowl. Add chicken on top. Then add any toppings you want. Admire how pretty it is before mixing it all up into a mush that is delicious for eating.