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.




Blackberry Hoisin Pork Tenderloin

Sticky sweet hoisin and blackberry jam are a perfect match. Add some tangy rice wine vinegar, fragrant sesame oil and a little chili garlic sauce for heat and you've got a winner of a recipe. Reserve a smidgen of the marinade to sauce the pork tenderloin at the end. 

blackberry hoisin pork tenderloin

Blackberry Hoisin Pork Tenderloin

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce

  • 1/4 cup seedless blackberry jam

  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (or more, to taste)

  • 2 garlic cloves minced

  • 1/4 inch ginger, finely grated or minced

  • 1 1lb pork tenderloin, silver skin removed

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions

Mix together the first 8 ingredients. Reserve and refrigerate 1/4 cup of marinade. In a ziploc bag cover the pork tenderloin with marinade and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. 

Preheat oven to 375 F. Preheat a cast iron grill pan over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Remove tenderloin from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Add vegetable oil to cast iron grill pan and sear tenderloin on 4-5 minutes a side. Finish the tenderloin in the oven for 10-15 minutes until meat registers 145 F. Let rest for 10 minutes. Slice tenderloin in 1/2 inch slices and finish with reserved marinade. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

I like to serve this juicy pork with jasmine rice and sugar snaps. 

Chili Garlic Sauce adds heat to this blackberry hoisin pork tenderloin.

Chili Garlic Sauce adds heat to this blackberry hoisin pork tenderloin.

Sesame Maple Tofu

This one is a breeze of a recipe to pull together on a weeknight. I usually press the tofu during the day while I'm at work, then slice and marinate it for 15 minutes before searing. It's awesome with rice, or noodles, or even just served with an easy salad and a green veg. I love the subtle sweetness provided by the maple syrup. In a pinch you could use agave or honey as a substitute.

An easy weeknight tofu dish that everyone in the family will enjoy.

An easy weeknight tofu dish that everyone in the family will enjoy.

Sesame Maple Tofu

Adapted from Book of Yum

serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of firm tofu 
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (for cooking tofu)
Sesame Maple Tofu is great over rice or bean thread noodles.

Sesame Maple Tofu is great over rice or bean thread noodles.

Directions

Remove tofu from packaging and drain water. Line a plate with paper towels, place tofu on top of paper towels, cover with more paper towels and place a second plate on top of the tofu. Weight the second plate with canned goods or other heavy (stable) items. Press tofu for at least 30 minutes (un-refrigerated is fine), or up to 10 hours refrigerated. I do this before I head out to work. Pressing the tofu removes excess moisture, allowing the tofu to suck up the flavorful marinade.

In a wide dish, mix together marinade ingredients (soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic). Cut tofu block in half length wise, and diagonally in the center to create 4 large triangles (see pictures). Place tofu in marinade in one layer and marinate between 15-30 minutes. Preheat a nonstick skillet with vegetable oil over medium high heat. Gently dry off the tofu with another paper towel to ensure a good sear. Sear tofu on both sides for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot or warm. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a crowd. Just remember not to "crowd" the pan. Sear in batches so you get it right!