Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tequila Lime Chicken

I have no idea where this summer went, but alas, it's back to the grind come tomorrow morning.  We decided we wanted to cook something really delicious tonight but something that wouldn't undo in advance the workout schedules we've set up for the following weeks.  We decided upon Tequila-Lime Chicken, a recipe which my family began cooking maybe 7-8 years ago.  And it's fantastic, if I do say so myself.

However many years ago it was, I wasn't really into cooking in any real way.  This was one of the first things that wasn't out of a box that I can remember cooking.  I found a recipe for a 'copycat' of Applebee's (yeah, I liked Applebees back then...) Tequila-Lime Chicken on the internet and figured I'd give it a go.  I spent a long time scouring websites for this recipe today, but with no luck.  There are several 'copycat' recipes out there for Applebees' Tequila-Lime and Fiesta Lime (I think the name just changed) Chicken, but they're all somewhat different.  Although I've tinkered with one or two ingredients, I cannot take any credit for this recipe, though unfortunately I'm not sure who ought to receive said credit.  Anyway, onto the recipe!

Tequila-Lime Marinade (for 2-3 medium-large to large chicken breasts):

  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 c. teriyaki sauce (the really thin stuff, not a thick brush-on marinade)
  • 1.5 oz lime juice (fresh or the stuff from the squeezable plastic lime)
  • 1 oz tequila 
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic 
  • 1/2 TBSP liquid smoke
  • 3/4 tsp salt ]
  • Scant 1/2 tsp ground ginger
Mix all ingredients together, shake well to combine, and pour into shallow glass baking dish.  Marinade the chicken breasts in this mixture, turning occasionally.  We marinaded them overnight, although some people argue that in this amount of time the acidic lime juice can toughen the meat.  We shall see.

When the chicken breasts have thoroughly marinaded, all you do is throw them on a hot grill and grill 'em up.  We're only halfway there though.  There's a really delicious (and spicy) Mexi-ranch sauce that goes great with this, and it should be made up a day or two ahead, so that the flavors can blend.  The following recipe will make more than you'll need for 2-3 breasts, but it keeps well, and goes great on turkey sandwiches and a variety of other things!

Mexi-ranch dip:

  • 3/4 c. low-fat sour cream
  • 3/4 c. light mayo
  • 1 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1 TBSP dried onion flakes 
  • 1 TBSP dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp cayenne (this gives it a decent kick, back off to 1/2 or 1/4 tsp if you don't like heat)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1/2 tsp paprika 
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper 

Top each chicken breast with a bit of sauce, and sprinkle some shredded Colby-Jack or Mexican-style cheese over the top.  A few pieces of diced tomato or cilantro are nice garnishes as well.  For a bit of extra texture, serve this over crunchy tortilla strips, like the multi-colored ones you can buy at the store.  We opted to go for some HyVee baked all-grain crisps with sea-salt because they're what we had.  Once everything is on the plate (including the side-dish, below) throw this under the broiler for a minute or two, just until the cheese melts.

This chicken has so much flavor that you don't want to serve it with anything really crazy.  Keep it simple, and go with something like classic Spanish rice.  The recipe we used is adapted from here.

Spanish Rice (two servings):

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 red or white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 c. medium-grain white rice
  • 1.5 c. chicken stock
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Lightly brown the rice in the oil in a small skillet.  When rice is beginning to brown, add onions and garlic and sauté until fairly soft.  Meanwhile, add other ingredients to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Add the rice, stir well, cover, and set the heat to low.  Cook 20-25 minutes.

The Verdict: Except for being slightly overcooked from uneven heating on the grill (I'm still getting the hang of charcoal grilling) this was really tasty! Everything was pretty much as I remember it, which is a good thing.  And how to top off the meal?  A cold Negra Modelo with a lime wedge (which I'd normally consider sacriledge) like they serve at La Fiesta back in Morton, IL!

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