Southwest-Style Chicken and Rice Stir-Fry

Chicken rice stir fry
Southwest/Mexican and Asian ingredients and cooking methods meld very well in this chicken and rice stir fry. photo (c) Hinterhaus Productions / Getty Images
  • 35 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4–6 servings

If you like chicken but are ready for a change from all your same-ole-same-ole dishes, try this easy stir-fry tonight—you may very well even have all the ingredients in your freezer, fridge, and cupboards. This Asian-Mexican dish is simple to make, delicious, and will make great leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.

What You'll Need

  • 2 tablespoons good quality pork lard, sesame oil, or vegetable oil
  • 4 chicken breasts, sliced into strips about 1/2 inch wide*
  • 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups cold Mexican rice (left over from day before is perfect)
  • 1 can (about 15 ounces / 425 grams) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Soy sauce or salt to taste

How to Make It

*Tip for cutting chicken strips: Chicken breasts are much easier to slice with a knife if they are semi-frozen, so stick them in the freezer for an hour before using and you’ll have to work a little less hard. If there’s no time to freeze your chicken, cut it into strips with kitchen scissors instead of a knife.

  1. Heat the lard or oil in a large wok or skillet over medium heat. Add the strips of chicken and stir-fry for 10 minutes.

  1. Add the onion and garlic and cook together for another 3 or 4 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

  2. Reduce heat to low. Add the rice, beans, chili powder, and cumin. Continue to stir-fry for 3 or 4 minutes, until heated through. Add soy sauce or salt to taste.

  3. Serve immediately. Any leftovers will keep nicely in the fridge; reheat in skillet or microwave for a delicious “re-run” of flavors.

Delectable Variations on Southwest Chicken Stir-Fry

Don’t be afraid to play around with the ingredients to make this recipe more Mexican or more Asian. Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking:

  • Add some Mexican vegetables to the mix. Try some diced summer squash (zucchini or similar) or some thinly sliced chayote; add at the same time as the onion and garlic. Don’t forget a little seeded and diced jalapeño or serrano pepper, too, if you like heat.

  • Include an Asian-style vegetable or two, if you prefer: fresh, tender snow peas or bean sprouts work well, or how about some (drained) canned bamboo shoots?

  • Trade some or all of the rice for cooked hominy. (If using canned hominy, drain it thoroughly first.)

  • Include some diced or thinly sliced fresh jicama in your stir-fry to add fiber, fun, and a crunchy element to the mix. (Chinese-style restaurants in Mexico often use jicama in their dishes since water chestnuts are exotic and difficult to come by there.)

  • When serving, sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds or a mixture of finely diced raw onion and chopped cilantro over the top of each portion.

    Edited by Robin Grose