Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken
Tequila Lime Chicken, a.k.a. Margarita Chicken, is one of those dishes that just screams fun. The marinade — a combination of tequila, lime, garlic and spices — is loaded with bright Southwestern flavor. Contrary to what you might think, it’s family friendly; the tequila is mild and it’s not too spicy. I like to serve it with a corn and tomato salad, as shown above, or this Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers and Avocado. If you want to make a party out of it, whip up some Roasted Garlic Guacamole and Margaritas.
Begin by pounding the chicken breasts with a meat mallet to an even 1/2-inch thickness. You can do this in a zip-lock bag or between two sheets of parchment paper as shown above. This both tenderizes the meat and ensures it cooks evenly.
Next, make the marinade. Combine the olive oil, tequila, lime zest, garlic and spices in a large freezer bag. If you’re wondering why I’d bother zesting the lime as opposed to just juicing it, I find that citrus juice (and vinegar too) makes boneless skinless chicken breasts somewhat leathery when cooked. Lime zest gives the chicken the essence of lime without sacrificing texture. You’ll see, these are tender and succulent every time.
Add the chicken breasts to the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least six hours or overnight.
When you’re ready to eat, preheat your grill to high. Be sure the grill is very hot and resist the urge to flip the chicken breasts more than once; you want nice grill marks and char in the short amount of time it takes to cook them.
Serve with lime wedges. Enjoy and have a great holiday weekend, everyone!
Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons tequila
3 teaspoons lime zest (you’ll need 2 limes)*
4 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1-1/4 teaspoons salt**
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons honey
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even 1/2-inch thickness, or 2 pounds chicken tenderloins
1 lime, sliced into wedges for serving (optional)
1. Combine all ingredients except chicken breasts in a 1 gallon freezer bag. Close the bag and squish marinade around to mix. Add chicken breasts and massage marinade into meat until evenly coated. Seal the bag and place it in a bowl in the refrigerator (the bowl protects against leakage); marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
2. Clean grill and preheat to high. Lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and, using tongs, carefully rub over grates several times until glossy and coated. (Alternatively, you can spray the grates with a non-flammable cooking spray.) Place chicken breasts on the grill and spoon any remaining marinade from the bag over top. Grill, covered, for 2-3 minutes per side (turn only once). Serve immediately with lime wedges.
*Use a fine or Microplane grater to zest the lime. Simply rub the lime in one direction against the blades, turning it as you go. Be sure to remove only the green part; the white pith underneath is bitter.
**If you are using less than 4 chicken breasts, you’ll need to reduce the salt accordingly.