Margarita Chicken

You’ve heard of umami, right? It’s been a big buzz word in cooking lately. It’s one of those things that can be really hard to define, but you know it when you taste it. Come to think of it, the other tastes aren’t much easier to describe. What can you say about sweet, other than…it’s sweet? It’s not always sugary, and it sometimes shows up in places you might not expect it (think beets). There’s no shortage of examples of umami, but this is one of my all-time favorites. An amazingly simple dish with sensational flavor, easy enough for a weeknight but magnificent enough for company.

I call this Margarita Chicken for the obvious reasons: tequila, lime, salt. And because I love margaritas, so it’s fun to say. In all honesty, though, it doesn’t really taste like margaritas. There are too many other flavors keeping the tequila from dominating. For that reason, I usually use inexpensive tequila for this and save the good stuff for actual Margaritas or Palomas.

This started out as a grill recipe, until we ran out of gas. We switched to a gas grill some years ago, mostly due to impatience. When everyone has spent a long day at work and school, nobody really wants to wait long enough to get the charcoal just right before even starting to cook dinner. Besides, it was getting harder and harder to find real charcoal, the lump kind that hasn’t been pressed into a brick or doused with chemicals. It’s easy to know when you’re out of charcoal. Either there’s a big bag there, or there isn’t. But we didn’t have a gas gauge on our grill, so it was mostly guesswork. One night, I had the chicken all ready to grill, only to discover I’d guessed wrong. No gas. So out came the grill pan my mom gave me when she downsized her kitchen. A little bit of olive oil and I was good to go. Now, the standard practice when grilling is to discard any remaining marinade. You never, ever want to consume raw marinade that’s had meat sitting in it. But there I was with the grill pan needing deglazing anyway, so in went the leftover marinade; a little additional chicken broth gave the marinade time to cook thoroughly without scorching. I poured the resulting pan sauce over the finished chicken and, wow! Umami-bomb! I’ve never been so happy to have run out of gas. I haven’t grilled Margarita Chicken outside since.

Margarita Chicken isn’t spicy, but it does have a little kick. Use the lesser amount of cayenne if you like your food tamer. You’ll find a printer-friendly version of the recipe at the bottom of this page.

Ingredients:

1 MC ingr

1 lime

3 cloves of garlic

2 Tbsp tequila

1 tsp ground cumin

¼ – ½ tsp cayenne

¼ tsp salt

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 Tbsp olive oil

½ cup chicken broth

small bunch fresh cilantro

Preparation:

1.) Grate the zest from the lime, then squeeze its juice. Place the zest and juice in a shallow baking dish.

lime zest fine

2.) Mince or press the garlic and add it to the dish. Add the tequila, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Mix well.

 

3.) Add the chicken, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

6 MC chicken.jpg

4.) Brush a nonstick grill pan or large skillet with the olive oil, then heat on medium high. Remove the chicken from the marinade, gently shaking off any drips of marinade (but don’t discard the marinade). Brown the chicken on both sides, then deglaze the pan with the remaining marinade and the chicken broth. Cover and cook until the chicken is done & marinade is well-cooked, about 5 – 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan, adding more broth as needed to keep it from cooking dry. While the chicken cooks, chop the cilantro for about 2 – 3 Tbsp.

 

5.) When the chicken is done, transfer it to a serving plate. If the sauce is still too watery, cook it uncovered for a minute or two until it reduces to a few tablespoons and reaches desired consistency. If it’s too dry, add broth or water as needed. It should be fairly thick, about like maple syrup.

9 MC reduce

6.) Spoon the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

MCNutritionLabel

Margarita Chicken


Ingredients


1 lime

3 cloves of garlic

2 Tbsp tequila

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp cayenne

¼ tsp salt

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 Tbsp olive oil

½ cup chicken broth

small bunch fresh cilantro

Directions


1.) Grate the zest from the lime, then squeeze its juice. Place the zest and juice in a shallow baking dish.

2.) Mince or press the garlic and add it to the dish. Add the tequila, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Mix well.

3.) Add the chicken, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

4.) Brush a nonstick grill pan or large skillet with the olive oil, then heat on medium high. Remove the chicken from the marinade, gently shaking off any drips of marinade (but don’t discard the marinade). Brown the chicken on both sides, then deglaze the pan with the remaining marinade and the chicken broth. Cover and cook until the chicken is done & marinade is well-cooked, about 5 – 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan, adding more broth as needed to keep the pan from cooking dry. While the chicken cooks, chop the cilantro for about 2 – 3 Tbsp.

5.) When the chicken is done, transfer it to a serving plate. If the sauce is still too watery, cook it uncovered for a minute or two until it reduces to a few tablespoons and reaches desired consistency. If it’s too dry, add broth or water as needed. It should be fairly thick, about like maple syrup.

6.) Spoon the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. OMG! Looks delicious!!!! I gotta give this a try!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. julie says:

      I hope you do; let me know how you like it!

      Like

  2. Anne Mutisya says:

    I can taste the flavors already, screams summer to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. julie says:

      It does, doesn’t it? We eat it all year long, but it’s a nice pop of summer when it’s cold out!

      Like

      1. Anne Mutisya says:

        Yes nowadays anything that reminds me if summer is a hit. Lime and cilantro tastes like vacation to me.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A cocktail flavoured marinade never crossed my mind. But it looks delicious! (:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. KR says:

    Very interesting post and inspiring recipe. Look delicous 🙂 thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. julie says:

      Thanks! I hope you have a chance to try it!

      Like

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