The Tale of Salsa and Chicken

Cooking and Ren Fest 043

Twas but two weeks ago when a harried graduate student began to pack her things to once again begin a semester of madness: internships, coursework, group projects, long nights studying…the usual graduate school affair. Packing the car until it could hold no more, she set off, ready to see her new living situation. With apprehension, her and her roommates entered the somewhat fetid hallway. They fumbled with the keys, opened the door and walked into their new apartment. Dreary, yet spacious, it was in need of a good scrub, and some love. As they toured the space, one food obsessed gal stopped, aghast, in front of the kitchen space. It was the size of a box. A small closet. Minuscule. As her heart welled with despair, she caught herself. It will work, she thought. This space can be put to good use. Wonderful meals will be made in this space.

After much unpacking, scrubbing, cleaning, and furniture building, the apartment looked livable. Now came the fun part. Grocery shopping, huzzah! The hungry gal eagerly ventured to a nearby grocery store, and picked up some provisions for the week: plain yogurt, grapes, carrots, hummus, salsa, chicken breast, lemons, bell peppers, field greens, tomatoes, broccoli, and cheese. Keep in mind, the non perishable essentials–rice, bulgur, lentils, tomato sauce, tomato paste, spices, noodles…etc.–had been the very first items to be packed. With wondrous glee, our heroine left the store and returned to her apartment, eager to create at least a meal from plunder. Once in the kitchen, she unpacked her food finds and got to work. With a flourish of her knife, she chopped the chicken breast, assigning half of the chopped poultry to the freezer, to be used for another day. She sprinkled the chicken to be cooked with salt and pepper, the dynamic duo of kitchen spices. To the mix she added cumin, coriander, garlic, lime, and generous spoonfuls of salsa. For a few hours, the chicken sat in the fridge, marinating in the fragrant spices. When dinner time rolled around, the pan came out, oil poured in, and the chicken tumbled out. With a sizzle, they filled the apartment with the mouth watering smell seared onions, lime, and tomato. Paired with rice, black beans, field greens, and avocado, the chicken became part of a colorful, edible masterpiece.


3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast (can also use chicken tenderloin)

4 tablespoons fresh salsa

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons coriander

1 teaspoon garlic

1-2 limes, squeezed, or 2 teaspoons lime powder

salt and pepper


Slice each chicken breast in half, as if to butterfly the piece of poultry. The goal is to make the chicken breast thinner, so that it will cook through completely and evenly on the stove. (If pieces are too thick, the outside will often sear while the inside is still raw)

Cut the chicken breast into smaller chunks, roughly 5-6 pieces for each halved chicken breast. Place the chopped pieces into a bowl, or plastic bag (whichever you prefer). Sprinkle the chicken with salsa, cumin, coriander, garlic, lime powder, salt, pepper, and salsa. Mix the chicken (or toss in the plastic bag). If you would like the chicken to have more pronounced flavor, let it marinate in the fridge for a few hours. It will still taste great if you cook it right away.

In a medium sized skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil on medium to high heat. When the oil is ready, add the chicken to the pan. (I generally cook chopped chicken in batches. When you put too many pieces of chicken in the pan, there’s too much water, and it just boils, instead of getting a nice sear. ) Cook the pieces of chicken for three to four minutes on each side.

Serve warm, with rice, beans, salad, or any other of your favorite chicken accompaniments. Enjoy!


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