This Sweet and Spicy Chicken Taco Bowl is the perfect round 2 dish for leftover taco chicken. The spicy use of red tomatillo sauce paired with a sweet pineapple coconut rice that’s drizzled in fresh lime juice is the perfect formation of a lite lunch from yesterday’s chicken tacos.
I don’t know about you, but when we have taco night we go all out. We have all the fixings and generally make a large pot of shredded Mexican chicken or bake multiple breasts in the oven. For all the reasons I love Mexican food – the flavors, the simplicity of ingredients, the variance in ingredients – taco night can be a big deal for a big family. And typically it’s not one I care to repeat the next day for lunch.
How to cook the taco chicken the night before
This sweet and spicy chicken taco bowl is super simple and uses the leftover chicken from the night before. To make the taco chicken from the previous night, use a taco mix such as Old El’ Paso (we have a shaker on hand) and coat both sides of raw chicken breasts. Then place in a pre-heated 350F oven (using the instructions below) for approximately 20-30 minutes or until chicken has reached an internal temperature of 155F-160F. Then remove it from the oven and cover with tinfoil. Let it rest for about 10 minutes. It will continue cooking as it sits to reach that 165F that the USDA recommends, without getting dried out.
How to reheat Chicken Breasts
While you could reheat the chicken in the microwave, we don’t have one. That and I find that chicken tends to get dried out when reheated there. My suggestion is to create a tinfoil boat for each chicken breast. Do this by setting the oven to 350F. Lay a cooked breast on a flat piece of tinfoil. Bring two of the sides together perfectly and roll from the top to just about one inch from the top of the breast. Take the open ends and fold them on themselves at an upward angle so no juice falls out of the boat during the reheating process. Place them on the center rack in the oven and reheat for approximately 5-10 minutes. This process helps to trap any steam within the boat and keep the breast tender.
How to Transform Taco Chicken into Sweet and Spicy Chicken
- Cook white rice using pineapple juice and coconut water as your liquid instead of water.
- Reheat the chicken.
- Combine crushed tomatoes and tomatillo salsa in a small saucepan on the stovetop.
- Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top of your dish and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.
The secret is in the rice
One aspect of this dish that takes it over the top and makes it a round 2 recipe, is the transformation of regular white rice into tropical rice. Instead of using tap water, use a can of pineapple juice and coconut water to boil the rice in. You will need a bit more liquid than normal since these liquids are higher in sugar content compared to regular water. Whereas you would typically do a 1:1 ratio with regular water, I added about 1/2 cup of extra coconut water to the tropical rice to get it to cook right.
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Sweet and Spicy Chicken Taco Bowl
- Small Saucepan
- Small Whisk
- Measuring Cups
- 1 cup coconut water
- 6 ounces pineapple juice
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup white rice uncooked we like Jasmine
- 1 leftover chicken breast or approximately 1/2-1 cup of your shredded taco chicken
- 1/4 cup tomatillo salsa
- 2 Tablespoons canned crushed tomatoes
- fresh lime juice
- Bring coconut water, pineapple juice, and salt to a boil. Cook rice according to package instructions.
- While rice is cooking, reheat the chicken in the oven.
- Stir together tomatillo salsa and crushed red tomatoes (or your other choice of salsa) in a saucepan just to heat through.
- Plate rice and chicken. Top with salsa, lime juice, and cilantro.