Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ultimate Margarita Chicken With Tequila Lime Vinaigrette (In The Oven!)

The hubbers and I have consumed a Margarita or two in our day... I mean, for folks who enjoy a cocktail every day now and then, who doesn't love the idea of an icy cold, fruity, sweet, yet tart and slightly salty beverage on a hot summer night? (or day) Well, if you happen to be one of those people, then a Margarita is the total package. It also happens to be a particularly popular libation around the 5th of May; also known as Cinco de Mayo.

Since man (and/or woman) cannot live on alcohol-based beverages alone, I thought it'd be kinda fun to merge this much loved seasonal drink with one of my favorite foods. If you know me at all, then you have a pretty good idea of what that food is, but for those of you stopping by for the first time, I'll fill you in. It's chicken! Yup. I'm a bona fide, die-hard, lifelong, card-carrying chicken-holic. Trust me, if you spend even a little bit of time poking around here, you'll get plenty of proof.

So, how did this little culinary experiment turn out? Well, it's definitely a keeper, if I do say so myself.  And I'm not just basing that on my own opinion. Hubbers loved it. I can tell pretty quickly when I have a winning recipe on my hands, by of the sounds that he makes while he's eating. It's kinda like the soundtrack to a... hmmm, well... let's just say a certain genre of films that they keep in the back room at the video store. Not that I'd know anything about that, of course.

Ultimate Margarita Chicken
For the Marinade:
  • 4 - 6 Bone-In (Split) Chicken Breasts
  • 1/4 Cup Tequila
  • 1/4 Cup Orange Juice
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Zest of 1 Lime
  • 1/4 Cup Light Olive or Vegetable Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 375° F

Prepare the marinade by mixing together the tequila, orange juice, lime juice, lime zest, oil and salt and pepper.

Before we go any further, I'll let you in on a little secret for marinating meats and poultry: I didn't invent this little gem. Professional chefs have been doing it for... well, ever. My mom used to do pretty much the same thing with a fork when she would marinate flank steak. I'd completely forgotten this until I stumbled across a video on YouTube a few years ago and I've been doing my own version ever since. It's all about "piercing" the meat before seasoning it. The pros generally use a special little multi-bladed gadget, (I've included a short video at the end of this post, where Chef Steve Binks demonstrates) but you can accomplish the same thing by using the tip of a sharp paring knife to make small slits all over the chicken. Yeah, it's really that simple.

Simple and brilliant. Of course, it's up to you, but you really shouldn't skip this step, because it can make a world of difference in your finished dish. You'll end up with chicken (or steak or chops) that is extremely tender and juicy and full of the flavors from whatever marinade you're using. Just give it a try with this recipe and I'm pretty positive that you'll continue to use this method from now on.

When using bone-in chicken, (breasts, thighs and drumsticks) you can pierce the meat all the way to the bone. Although I would not recommend using the boneless version for this particular recipe, I do pierce boneless cuts of chicken, beef, pork, etc. prior to marinating. I just make slightly more shallow slits (about halfway through) on both sides of the meat.

Place the chicken in a 2 or 3 inch deep, glass or ceramic baking pan or casserole dish. Stay away from metal pans or bowls when using citrus based marinades. The citric acid tends to react with most metals and will give the meat a funky, metallic taste. With the exception of stainless steel, it can also corrode the pan.

Pour the marinade slowly over the meat, so that plenty of it gets down into those slits you've made.

Once you've got all of the marinade in the pan, turn the meat over two or three times, ending with the skin side down in the marinade. Cover the dish with some plastic cling wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes, but no longer than about an hour. The citric acid in fruit juices breaks down the fibers in the meat and if you leave it in too long, it will make the meat mushy. I don't know about you, but in my book, mushy chicken (or any other meat) is not very appetizing. That's why I avoid buying the "pre-marinated" meats that you often find in the grocery store butcher case. 

When the chicken has finished marinating, remove it from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for a maximum of about 10 minutes. When meats like beef and lamb are coming fresh from the fridge, you want to bring them up to almost room temperature before grilling or roasting them, but poultry and pork can start to "turn" when they get too warm, while still in their raw state. Discard any remaining marinade.

Place the chicken pieces on a rack, placed over a foil-lined sheet pan or broiler pan. Roast it in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. (depending on your oven and the size of the chicken pieces) Check on it at about the 30-minute mark and if the internal temperature is 165 degrees and the juices run clear, it's done. The days of cooking chicken until it's shriveled up and bone dry are over, folks. Meats continue to cook for several minutes after being removed from the heat source and their internal temperature will rise (up to 5 degrees) as it rests.

While the chicken is cooking, make the vinaigrette.

Tequila Lime Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 Cup Tequila
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Zest of 1 Lime
  • 1 Tbls Honey (heaping)
  • 1 Lg Shallot, minced
  • Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Light Olive or Vegetable Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

This looks like a lot of shallots, but it's really not. They just float to the top.
Place all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. You can also use a stick blender or put them in a blender or food processor if you want the vinaigrette to be more smooth. If the kiddies will be joining you for this meal, you can leave the tequila out of the vinaigrette or make a separate batch without it for them. The tequila in the marinade will be fine. The alcohol burns off during the cooking process.

You might have noticed that the ingredients in the marinade and the vinaigrette are almost identical ...and they are. Almost.

I used orange juice in the marinade, because honey is very thick and contains more natural sugar. This would have made the skin on the chicken more likely to burn. The orange juice added a perfect balance of sweetness, without the risk of charring the skin before the meat was cooked through.

I served this zesty chicken with a crisp green salad and some Jasmati rice that I prepared "Chipotle Grill" style. We love their rice, so I asked one day when we were in there, just what it is that they do to give it such a bright, fresh flavor. It couldn't be any easier.

Just cook your rice as you normally would ( **I make mine in the microwave) and when it's done and you're ready to fluff it up with a fork, just squeeze in some fresh lime juice, add some chopped cilantro and continue to fluff. And voila! You have Chipotle's Cilantro Lime Rice! (I didn't have any fresh cilantro on hand, so I used flat leaf parsley this time)

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the chicken and pour the rest in a small bowl and pass it at the table. We used it on everything!

**I don't use instant or quick cooking rice. If you do, just follow the instructions on the package and then add the lime juice and cilantro/parsley at the end.

Chef Steve Binks demonstrating the Jaccard Meat Tenderizer

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  1. Yum Mary! Looks great! This will be a try for me for sure.

    1. I think you'll like it, Sue! Maybe as an "apres race" meal? You get your dinner and a cocktail all in one! LOL You'll have to let me know how it turns out!

  2. Okay, so, 29 years ago (just before getting married) I had a bad experience with Tequila. This is the ONLY thing that has made me contemplate touching it again. :)

    1. Ha! You're not alone in the bad tequila experience department, Liza. We call it "ta-kill-ya" around here. ;~) I've always sworn that it has some kind of black magic in it, that makes you do things that you'd never do... not even if you'd been drinking too much of something else. (if that makes sense)LOL

      That being said... We ate this and nobody did anything crazy, so I think you're safe. :~) Let me know if you do decide to give it a try, OK?

  3. Uh, I'm sorry, Mary...I lost you at "...woman cannot live on alcohol-based beverages alone..." I think I'm proof that they CAN!!! :-) :-) :-)

    Gosh, this looks beautiful! I have made tequila-lime chicken before, but it was the little drumettes. I've never made it like a full-blown meal. Nor have I ever included orange juice in the recipe. That sounds interesting. I can remember a lot of food in Mexico City having the flavor of oranges in it. (I was cool with that until I tasted it in the maple syrup. DO NOT mess with my maple syrup!!! :-))I just showed the photos & recipe to Ramon, and he gave it a total thumbs up. Looks like I'll be trying this one!

    I like the idea of piercing the meat to marinate it. I use syringes to inject it, but sometimes I run out. Just stabbing the meat a little is a good idea! (I'm a VIOLENT little person, aren't I??!??!)

    Beautiful photos, lady! Have a great week!!!

    1. LOL! You are too funny Ms. Alycia! If it was a few years back, (before I got sick) I would have had to agree with you! I'm only good for one or two cocktails a year now-a-days. Sad, right? I also agree with you about the maple syrup. I was raised in maple syrup country and I'm a bit of a snob in that area. I know lots of people use and like them, but you'll never see a "maple flavored" syrup in this house! I sometimes use an injector to marinate, but stabbing the meat does help vent any built-up frustrations if/when you have them. ;~)

      Let me know if you do decide to try it, OK? I'd love to know what Ramon thinks of it. (good or bad... I'm a big girl and can take a little constructive criticism) XOXO

      PS: Did you get my email/reply (from the BBQ Bacon Meatloaf comment) a few days ago?


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