Steven Specials are the dinner you never knew you needed! Mexican rice, chicken, queso, and homemade tortillas combine for an epic dish that everyone loves!
Whelp, it’s my first post of the new year, so I decided to let you all in on a little secret.
Our favorite dinner.
My husband and kiddos are a picky bunch, so I’m always on the hunt for meals that they’ll not only EAT, but really LOVE. This meal — the Steven Special, is a super popular menu item at basically every Mexican restaurant in the state of Arkansas. And my son would eat one every day, if he could.
So obviously, seeing what a simple meal that it actually was, I decided to figure out how to make them at home.
It’s not rocket science — Mexican rice, diced and seasoned chicken, white cheese sauce, and warm flour tortillas. But trust me when I say that this meal is a favorite with everyone I know. We are lucky enough to have a large number of Mexican restaurants in Arkansas — all locally owned, all serve more or less the same items — and I’ve seen some version of the Steven Special on all of them I’ve visited. Who is Steven? I really couldn’t tell you.
But he has excellent taste, whoever he is.
Also! This is the only meal I make where the leftovers are not only GONE within days, but considered a hot commodity. My bunch aren’t leftover people, so this is a VBD.
A few notes about this recipe:
There are several elements, but don’t be overwhelmed. This recipe is incredibly simple to pull off, as each element requires minimal effort and ingredients. Another bonus — any or ALL parts of this recipe can be prepped in advance and reheated later.
Feel free to go with what you’ve got! Dice up rotisserie chicken if you must. Shred up some colby-jack or cheddar and melt it over the chicken instead of making queso. Use store bought tortillas. Add steamed veggies! Live your life, man.
This is NOT an authentic Mexican recipe. I am whiter than white and fairly certain that most local of my Mexican restaurants serve meals catered specifically to their main clientele. White people. Like me.
And the TORTILLAS!! Can we talk about them?
Fam. You need. Homemade flour tortillas are one of my favorite things on the planet, and I’ve been working on a great recipe for infinity. And these? This is it. Buttery, soft, and with the perfect amount of salt, these are a dream come true.
I’ve tried lots of tortilla recipes that use lard, and while they are wonderful, I pretty much NEVER have lard on hand. So I use butter and vegetable oil, which are staples around here, and I don’t regret it one smidge. Not one ounce. NOT A SPECK, DO YOU HEAR ME.
Also you can totally use store-bought flour tortillas but it’s not the same and never will be and you’re depriving yourself and your whole family of one of the greatest pleasures known to man, but no pressure. You do you.
I can’t wait to hear all about how much you love these!
- 3 chicken breasts, thawed
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 TBS taco seasoning
- 2 TBS lime juice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Flour Tortillas:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 TBS salted butter, cold
- 2 TBS vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup warm water
- Mexican Rice:
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 chicken and tomato bouillon cube (I use Knorr Caldo de Tomate), broken into quarters
- 2 cups boiling water
- 8 oz Velveeta Queso Blanco
- 1 TBS juice from jalapeno jar
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- Place chicken in large resealable sandwich bags (or between pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper) and, using a rolling pin or mallet, pound to 1/4 inch thickness. Place chicken in a gallon-size resealable bag and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine vegetable oil, taco seasoning, lime juice, and garlic. Whisk to combine. Pour into bag containing chicken and massage to coat. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour (no longer than two hours, due to the acid in the lime juice).
- While chicken marinades, prepare tortilla dough: In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in butter, mixing with your hands until crumbly and combined. Make a well in the center and add oil and water, stirring (you may have to use your hands), until a smooth dough forms. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Prepare rice: In a large saucepan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onions and rice and cook, stirring frequently, until rice is golden brown and onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic and bouillon, then add hot water. Immediately cover the pan with a lid and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender (about 20 - 25 minutes). I usually turn the heat up to 2 or 3 once the rice is ready -- just for a few minutes -- to crisp it up a smidge.
- While the rice is cooking, heat your grill or grill pan to high heat. Grill chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side, until juices run clear. Let rest for about 5 minutes, then cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.
- Heat a griddle to medium-high heat. Unwrap tortilla dough and cut into quarters. Cut each quarter in half. Keeping the dough you're not using covered, roll each section on a lightly floured board into paper thin circles. Place on hot griddle -- once it begins to bubble, check it to see if it has golden brown spots on the cooked side. If it does, flip and cook until the other side has golden brown spots as well. Stack on a plate, brush with melted butter, and cover with a damp flour-sack or paper towel.
- Queso: Dice Velveeta and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Add jalapeno juice and milk, heating in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth.
- Assemble plates: Rice, chicken, queso, warm, buttery tortillas on the side.
Have a very happy Monday!!