Southwestern Chicken: a Foil Dinner Recipe

Today on Serious Eats: Banana Nut Oatmeal and French Toast Oatmeal. Both easy, both tasty, both make we want to eat right now.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I camped. A lot. I was a Girl Scout, see. And when I wasn’t pushing Thin Mints on the unsuspecting elderly, I was deep in the woods, playing Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board and doing everything I could to avoid roaming packs of Daddy Longlegs.

I was also eating, as freakishly tall 13-year-olds are wont to do. Back then, my troop’s campsite meals were limited to sandwiches and granola bars, along with the occasional S’more-a-thon.

However, as we got older, we also got smarter, and began booking a large cabin with a fully functioning kitchen. (Note: I grew up on Long Island. This still counted as roughing it.) Spaghetti dinners became much more common than burgers and dogs. As approximately 400% of Long Islanders are at least part Italian, this was greatly appreciated.

Honestly (and I’m positive my leader will know for sure), I don’t remember ever cooking anything in a tin foil pouch, over a campfire or otherwise. I wish we had, though, because this Southwestern Chicken from would have been great. With only four major ingredients, it’s stupefying in its simplicity, but rewarding in its … uh … tasteicity.

Baked in the oven at a high temperature, the salsa steams the chicken, keeping it pleasingly moist without overcooking. It flavors the dish, too, meaning the higher the salsa quality, the better the meal. While you could definitely serve Southwestern Chicken with rice or a salad, the corn and beans make it a fairly complete dinner. I give it a foil-packed thumbs up.

Readers, do you have any favorite foily meals? I have Reynolds wrap, and I’m not afraid to use it. There’s a nation of eager Girl Scouts out there waiting for your suggestions. (And for you to shoo the spiders away. *shudder*)

If you like this recipe, you might also like:

Southwestern Chicken
Serves 2
Adapted from

2 12x18-inch rectangles aluminum foil
2 5-ounce pieces boneless skinless chicken breast (or, 1 10-ounce breast cut in half)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/2 cup chunky salsa, medium heat

1) Preheat oven to 450°F.

2) Generously salt and pepper both sides of each chicken breast. Place each smack in the middle of its own sheet of tin foil. Top each with 1/4 cup beans, 1/4 cup corn, and 1/4 cup salsa.

3) Seal the packets. Bring the long ends together and double fold them. Then double fold sides. Don’t make them too snug – make sure you leave some space in there for steaming.

4) Bake 35 minutes. Remove from oven and give the foil a minute or two to cool. Release your chicken and serve over rice.

NOTE: Thinner cuts of meat will cook for less time. Mine was about 1-inch at its thickest part.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
269 calories, 2.4 g fat, 6 g fiber, $0.98

2 5-ounce pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts: 312 calories, 3.4 g fat, 0 g fiber, $1.06
Kosher salt: negligible calories, fat, and fiber per serving, $0.01
Freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, and fiber per serving, $0.01
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed: 114 calories, 0.4 g fat, 7.5 g fiber, $0.19
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed: 76 calories, 0.6 g fat, 2.3 g fiber, $0.20
1/2 cup chunky salsa, medium heat: 35 calories, 0.3 g fat, 2.1 g fiber, $0.50
TOTALS: 537 calories, 4.7 g fat, 11.9 g fiber, $1.97
PER SERVING (TOTALS/2): 269 calories, 2.4 g fat, 6 g fiber, $0.98