If there are two things I usually have on hand in my refrigerator, it’s cooked chicken and rice. I have been making variations of chicken and rice recipes since our newlywed days, so much so that my husband eventually felt the need to gently inform me that other types of food existed.
Following that moment of wedded bliss, I stopped making chicken and rice quite as often, but it’s still a dinnertime staple in our household. On one recent busy school night, I cooked chicken in a crock pot with salsa, crushed pineapple and black beans, resulting in juicy, tangy chicken that I shredded and served over rice.
And I was giddy when I realized there would be enough left over to make one of my favorite meals the next day: crispy chicken wraps. Inspired by Southwest flavors, these wraps have the crunch of a chimichanga without all the frying and fuss.
Leftover rice is mixed with a savory concoction of chili powder, cumin and garlic salt before being added in with chopped or shredded chicken, pork or beef.
Plain meat works just fine, but meat that has been marinated in other flavors (like my salsa pineapple chicken from the night before) is extra delicious. Just make sure the flavors don’t clash with Southwest-inspired ingredients (teriyaki or curry chicken might not be the best choice for this dish).
The best part of this recipe (besides the out-of-this-world taste) is that it is unfussy. Among other things, the recipe calls for a can of black beans, sliced green onion, fresh cilantro and fresh lime juice.
But there have been nights where I’ve been out of just about everything and have added navy beans, diced yellow onion, dried cilantro and a splash of bottled lemon juice. The wraps still turned out absolutely divine, and my family gobbled them up as usual.
Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredients list. Chances are you have just about everything on hand in your refrigerator, spice drawer and pantry. And if you don’t, improvise – that’s the beauty of this highly adaptable recipe that stretches a few lowly leftovers into another full-blown, five-alarm meal.
Crispy Chicken Wraps
Adapted from melskitchencafe.com
1 cup cooked rice, warm or at room temperature
3/4 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup cooked, shredded or chopped chicken, pork or beef
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 green onions, finely sliced
1/2 red or green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 cups shredded cheese
1 cup sour cream
10-12 burrito-sized flour tortillas
Nonstick cooking spray
Optional toppings: sour cream, salsa, sliced avocado, chopped lettuce, etc.
In a large bowl, mix the rice, chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. Add the chicken, black beans, green onions, bell pepper, cilantro and lime juice. Mix gently.
Spread a generous spoonful of sour cream down the center of each tortilla and then sprinkle with cheese. Arrange chicken and rice mixture on top of the sour cream and cheese base.
Fold one side of the tortilla over the filling, followed by the other side, leaving the ends of the wrap open. Gently press each wrap to flatten slightly.
Heat a nonstick skillet or griddle to medium-high heat and spray generously with cooking spray. Place the wraps, seam side down, onto the skillet and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 2-4 minutes.
Spray the tops of each wrap and flip. Cook for another 2-4 minutes, until golden brown and the filling is hot.
Serve plain or on a bed of chopped lettuce. Top with sour cream, salsa, sliced avocado or other toppings of your choice.
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