Nothing says summertime for me more than fresh bright flavors combined with seared meat. I made tequila lime chicken a while back and I needed to scratch that itch again. My only problem was I didn't have any tequila on hand. No problem, I subbed mezcal instead.
What's the difference between Mezcal and Tequila?
There are three key reasons why mezcal is different from tequila:
Tequila and mezcal are produced in different states of Mexico (though there is overlap).
Tequila can only be made, by law, with one variety of agave: the Blue Agave. Mezcal can be made with upwards of 30 varieties of agave, though most are made with the Agave Espadin.
The production process for mezcal is different from tequila which leads to a distinctly different flavor profile for mezcal.
And, oh yeah, it has a worm at the bottom!
The lime and mezcal marinade penetrated the chicken providing depth and delicious flavor to usually so-so breast meat. Leaving the skin on kept the moisture in and left the meat some sumptuous fat. I de-boned my chicken breasts, but you can ask your butcher to help, or keep the bone in. Just plan to adjust the cooking time accordingly. Your meat thermometer is your best friend!
Mezcal & Lime Chicken
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style
- 1/2 cup Mezcal (I used Monte Alban Mezcal Con Gusana)
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (takes 5-6 limes)
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 jalapeno, finely minced, seeds removed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 6 boneless skin-on chicken breasts
Combine mezcal, lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, garlic, honey, jalapeno and kosher slat in a large glass bowl. Add the chicken breasts and cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat your cast iron grill pan to medium high heat, and your oven to 375 F. Remove chicken from marinade and dry thoroughly. Grill the chicken skin-side down for 5-6 minutes. Turn the chicken and place grill pan in oven and cook until the chicken reaches 160 F, approximately 10-15 minutes. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes (while resting, the chicken will climb to 165 F), then slice or serve whole.
Serve with some wilted arugula with garlice, a little spanish rice, and a nice, cold Mezcal Margarita and it's dinner.