Beer and chicken make a perfect pair—which is why we’ve brought them together in this hearty recipe for Beer-Braised Chicken with Rice & Queso Fresco. Here, chicken is seared, then braised in a flavorful, fragrant mix of oregano, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and beer until incredibly tender. The chicken is then shredded and served atop a bed of rice and ladled with that same decadent braising sauce. Queso fresco serves as a savory finishing touch.
Chipotle pepper is pretty spicy, so how much is too much? If you LOVE spicy food: chop half of the pepper. If you like a little heat: chop ¼ of the pepper. If you don’t want heat: just skip it!
¾ cup white rice
8 ounces chicken stock, divided
⅛ ounce oregano
1 yellow onion
1 chipotle pepper in adobo
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 ounce crumbled queso fresco
2 tablespoons canola oil
¾ cup water cup
½ pale ale or pilsner-style beer (optional)
6″ small pot with lid
12″ large high-sided pan with lid
In a small pot, combine rice, ½ cup chicken stock, ¾ cup water, and ¼ teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir once, reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, still covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork, then cover to keep warm until ready to serve.
While rice cooks, strip oregano leaves, discarding stems. Peel onion and cut into small dice. Roughly chop up to half of chipotle pepper (see Recipe Tip). Discard remainder or save for another recipe.
Pat chicken dry with paper towel and season all over with paprika, cayenne (or skip it if you don’t want heat), and ½ teaspoon salt. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a medium high-sided pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken and sear until browned, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate, leaving behind any oil in pan for braising, and set aside.
Add oregano and onion to pan from chicken over medium heat and cook until onion is soft, 3-5 minutes. Stir in apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, chopped chipotle, and half of diced tomatoes and their juices. Stir in ½ cup beer; alternatively, use remaining chicken stock, which makes for an equally flavorful braise. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
Return chicken to pan, submerging at least halfway in sauce. Cover pan, reduce heat to medium and simmer until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, 6-8 minutes. Uncover pan and transfer chicken to a separate plate. Increase heat under pan to medium-high and simmer until sauce is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, using 2 forks or tongs, shred chicken into bitesize pieces; alternatively, roughly chop to save a little time.
Return shredded chicken to braising liquid over medium heat and cook, stirring, until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt and black pepper as desired. Serve braised chicken with rice, spooning over sauce. Garnish with queso fresco and enjoy! Save remaining tomatoes (and any stock, if you didn’t use it) for another recipe.