Chipotle Salsa Baked Chicken
Dear restaurant chain by the same name, thank you for making chipotle a household word! (And for helping to teach people how to say it correctly—”cheh POAT lay”.) I love cooking with chipotles—smoked, dried, red jalapeños—especially those packed in adobo sauce. In this recipe we are making a simple salsa with fire roasted tomatoes, onions, lime juice, and chipotles packed in adobo, coating chicken breasts with the sauce, topping them with melty jack cheese, and baking them in the oven in a casserole dish. So easy. And so versatile. First, chiles in adobo last a long time in the fridge, many months once you’ve opened the can, so you don’t have to stress about using them up right away. Second, this dish has lots of sauce, which tastes great with rice, pasta, tortillas, even chips. Third, it makes great leftovers.
This chicken bake is very similar to my salsa verde baked chicken, but with a smokey chipotle salsa instead. It’s a little on the acidic side with the lime juice and adobo, and tastes great with avocados to cut the acid and the heat. And while I usually serve it with rice, it’s also surprisingly good with penne pasta. In fact I could see making this again as a pasta casserole, just chop up the chicken to bite sized pieces, toss with cooked pasta and the salsa, sprinkle with cheese and bake until the chicken is cooked through. A big shout out and thank you to my friend Gaby Dalkin, from whose chipotle salsa recipe I (barely) adapted this one.
This casserole produces a lot of sauce! Use it to spoon over rice or pasta, or for dipping tortilla chips.
- 1 15-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes (or canned whole or crushed tomatoes if fire roasted are not available)
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup, packed, chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 chipotle chili peppers in adobo, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (less or more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs), trimmed of excess fat, cut into 3-inch wide pieces
- 4 ounces grated or sliced Monterey jack cheese
Serve with or over
- More chopped cilantro
- Sour cream
- Corn or flour tortillas
1 Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, chipotle peppers and adobo, lime juice and salt in a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times so there are no more large chunks of anything, but not so much so that the salsa is completely smooth.
2 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the chicken pieces in a casserole dish, just large enough to fit them all in a single layer (about 8x10-inches). Spread the chipotle salsa over the chicken pieces, turning the chicken pieces to coat them all over with the salsa.
3 Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes (30 minutes for thighs). Remove the foil, and sprinkle or layer the cheese over the chicken. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes more.
Serve over rice, pasta, or with tortillas on the side, along with chopped avocado, more cilantro, crema fresca or sour cream.
Variation: This is a bake-in-the-oven recipe. You could easily adapt the recipe to the stovetop this way: sear the chicken pieces first in a little olive oil, remove the chicken, add the onions to the pan, cook them till soft, add the garlic and chiles, cook a little longer, add the tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro, and salt, then add the chicken, coat the chicken with the sauce, bring to a low simmer, cover, cook for 25 minutes, sprinkle with cheese, cover and cook for a few more minutes until the cheese is melted.