Tequila Lime Chicken

Chicken marinated in tequila and lime.  Summer is here!

I’m not sure if I had ever had tequila marinated chicken before, and the flavor was semi-surprising. I did not get a strong punch of tequila (a little disappointed, most would probably be satisfied), but it was certainly flavorFUL, and even a little sweet. Maybe it was the splash of OJ? But I really enjoyed when I experienced the heat of the jalapenos–next time I will definitely use more. Actually, next time tequila chicken is on the menu, I am going to make this, so prepare yourselves. But I suppose we should give it time. Variety is the spice of life, right?

ready for marinating!

Since it was 100 degrees out, I served this over a salad and mixed up a simple lime vinaigrette to complement the flavors in the chicken. Refreshingness. But you could serve it with rice, or quinoa, or a bean salad or…..(infinity)…. You could also make a creamy lime vinaigrette by mixing it up with buttermilk or greek yogurt.

Look at that jalapeno!

I kept smirking while making this because I couldn’t help thinking of one of my favorite shows: “So the lime first, then the shot…” It’s Always Sunny fans, anyone?Tequila lime marinated chicken

Tequila Lime Chicken

*you could easily marinate more chicken with this amount of marinade, 3-4 chicken breasts

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • zest of 2 limes
  • juice of 4 limes
  • 1/4 cup of tequila (this may sound like a lot, but it’s really only 1-2 shots)
  • splash of OJ
  • splash of canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • jalapeno to taste (I used a few slices of pickled jalapenos because I had them on hand, I would say one fresh jalapeno would be great: seeds kept for more heat, discard the seeds for less.)

Combine all ingredients in a tupperware container and shake it up. Place in the refrigerator, and let the marinade work magic overnight. Grill or pan fry 6-8 minutes on each side.

Lime Vinaigrette

*I would say this makes enough for about 6 salads

  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander (freshly chopped cilantro would be better!)
  • salt and pepper

Shake, shake, shake-Shake, shake, shake-Mix it all up!

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Gorgonzola stuffed chicken with whiskey soaked mushroom cream sauce

Garlic and mushrooms soaked in whiskey and cream would be enough to make a delicious chicken dish. But combine that with a bite of warm, melted blue cheese in the center? It takes the dish to a whole new level of awesomeness.

I have a fantastic cookbook called The Irish Spirit: Recipes Inspired by the Legendary Drinks of Ireland. There is a whole section devoted to Irish whiskey! You can bet I will be cooking my way through the entire thing!  In it I came across a recipe for Chicken Cashel Blue: essentially your typical chicken marsala–except replace that marsala wine with some Irish whiskey. Then there is the added bonus of some Cashel blue cheese stuffed inside.

I have to confess, I don’t like stuffing chicken. It’s a process. It takes time. You need lots of dishes. I hate dealing with toothpicks. My stuffing always melts out. I worry that the chicken won’t cook all the way through (valid worries from previous experience!). But this recipe combined some of my favorite things-it sounded too delicious to pass up!

The cookbook instructed me to refrigerate the chicken for 15 minutes after coating it in breadcrumbs. I’m so happy to have learned this! It definitely helped set the coating; the breadcrumbs adhered well and came out nice and crispy. So many of my coated chicken attempts have come out soggy with only half the bread crumbs remaining. Lesson learned! I adapted the recipe for my own tastes and tailored it around what I had on hand. It’s a new keeper!

Gorgonzola stuffed chicken with whiskey soaked mushroom cream sauce

Adapted from The Irish Spirit: Recipes Inspired by the Legendary Drinks of Ireland

4 boneless chicken breast halves, 4 to 5 ounces each

4 ounces of a blue cheese (to be honest, I just sprinkled on an amount that looked good)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 large egg beaten with (optional) 1 tablespoon water

1/2 cup bread crumbs

olive oil to coat the pans

2 cloves of garlic (at least!)

6 ounces white mushrooms, chopped or pre-sliced

2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

1/4 cup heavy cream

salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Make a horizontal incision in each chicken breast to form a pocket, or horizontally cut the chicken and open it up-like a butterfly effect. Distribute the cheese evenly among the chicken. If you butterflied, fold the chicken back over. (You could use toothpicks to seal, but I was lazy and did not and it turned out great.)

Put the flour in one shallow dish, the egg wash in another, and the bread crumbs in a third. Lightly dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, dip in the egg wash, and then cover with bread crumbs. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

In a large heatproof skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Cook the chicken for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes while preparing the sauce.

In another skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the whiskey and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Stir in the cream, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until smooth.

Pour the mushroom sauce over the chicken. Consume. Delight.

Drunken Pasta

Pasta cooked in wine instead of water? Genius. Pure genius.

Look at the beautiful color in that pot! We used cabernet sauvignon, but any dry red will do. Just DON’T use “cooking wine.” (What is that stuff??) One of the glorious things about this method is that you don’t need a substantial sauce-all that cabsav flavor is cooked into the pasta itself! Reinforce that flavor by using some of the cooking water. I chose to pair my pasta with mushrooms and spinach because they can soak up more of that wonderful wine.

Of course, I also recommend buying one of the larger bottles of wine, only using 3 cups in the cooking process, and enjoying a glass along with dinner. Or while you cook. Or both. With this method you end up with a deep yet subtle wine flavor that permeates the entire dish. And it’s a pretty color. Now, the real question is–what liquid will I cook my pasta in next…?

Drunken Pasta

1 750 ml bottle of red wine, or 3 cups

1 16oz. package of pasta

1 10oz. box frozen spinach

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 8oz. package mushrooms, sliced

1/2 tsp. cracked red pepper

parmesan cheese

Pour wine into pot and supplement with water. Bring to a boil for the pasta and cook according to package directions and drain. RESERVE SOME PASTA WATER. Defrost spinach in the microwave and squeeze out the liquid. Preheat a skillet big enough for the pasta (we’ll be adding it in later) over medium heat. Saute mushrooms in some olive oil. Add chopped garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and the cracked red pepper. Add the spinach and heat through. Add some reserved pasta water to create a sauce for the pasta, about a cup. Toss in the pasta and add more reserved water if needed. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Plate and sprinkle on parmesan cheese.