Mezcal & Lime Chicken

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. 

Mezcal and Lime Chicken

What's the difference between Mezcal and Tequila?

From mezcalphd.com:

There are three key reasons why mezcal is different from tequila:

  1. Tequila and mezcal are produced in different states of Mexico (though there is overlap).

  2. 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.

  3. 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

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 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
Mezcal and Lime Chicken

Directions

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.

My trusty Lodge cast iron grill pan delivers perfect "grill marks" every time.

My trusty Lodge cast iron grill pan delivers perfect "grill marks" every time.




Lime and Coconut Milk Chicken

This was one of those stop-me-in-my-tracks recipes that I spotted over on Pinterest. I'm a sucker for coconut milk, I love the flavor and it's ability to morph from savory to sweet recipes. Some of the best fried chicken recipes start with a long marinade session in milk or buttermilk. It tenderizes the meat and adds deep and rich flavor. The thought of coconut milk permeating bone-in chicken sounded super delicious. 

So for my methods. I do usually try to follow a recipe the first go around and start tweaking after that. But, I wasn't going to use powdered ginger for this one. I also knew that my chicken thighs needed a longer ride in the oven then 30 minutes to cook down those pockets of fat. The next time you're in the mood for extra yummy (with full-on coconut flavor) you need to give this recipe a try.

Lime and coconut milk chicken

Lime and Coconut Milk Chicken

Adapted from She Who Bakes, serves 6

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons canned coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 pounds bone-in chicken thighs (skin-on)
An easy marinade with big flavorful results!

An easy marinade with big flavorful results!

Directions

  1. Combine the marinade ingredients until well mixed. Reserve the remaining coconut milk to make coconut rice. Coat the chicken in mixture, and seal in a zip-top bag. Marinate overnight. 
  2. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  3. Arrange chicken on a foil lined sheet pan.
  4. Bake uncovered 45 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Southern Italian Chicken Thighs

My go-to dinner at least once a week = chicken thighs. I usually marinate them in Trader Joe's Soyaki, or make St. Claire's chicken, a family favorite. But, they lend themselves to other big, bold flavors like briny olives and fire-roasted tomatoes. For you low-carb'ers, serve these over a bed of lightly dressed arugula. For you carb-lovers, a bed of linguine will serve as a delicious bed for all the juices. 

I used Cabot sharp cheddar for the recipe because it is naturally lactose free, yes, you heard me right, it's lactose free! Cheddar is obviously not Italian, so feel free to substitute a fresh mozzerella or an aged Parmesan or Pecorino Romano in its place.

southern Italian Chicken Thighs

Southern Italian Chicken Thighs

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup shredded Cabot Cheddar
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 2 shallots sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de provence
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, onion powder, herbs de provence, salt and pepper. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, spread out the chicken thighs and drizzle with olive oil and evenly sprinkle on the spice mixture, flip and repeat.

Evenly spread out the minced garlic, sliced shallots, olives, canned tomatoes, and cheese. Add the white wine without disturbing the ingredients. On the middle rack, bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and adjust rack higher for broiling. Broil the chicken for 8-10 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve over a bed of pasta or lightly dressed arugula. Alternately, it would make an awesome sandwich on a crunchy Italian loaf.

The seasoned chicken thighs headed into a hot oven!

The seasoned chicken thighs headed into a hot oven!