This lovely margarita chicken recipe has its roots in a Cinco de Mayo Post that just never got published in time … I wanted something fresh, summery, and limey – and this marinade certainly delivers. I used an incredibly old bottle of
I used an incredibly old bottle of mezcal because, surprisingly, I couldn’t find any tequila in the house. Tequila is a type of mezcal – and this is just a marinade so either one will work. My mezcal was quite old, dark, and robustly flavored … it was a good marinade. 😀
Adjust the amounts and proportions of triple sec, tequila, and lime according to how much chicken you have. Marinades are a great way to get creative and use up leftover wine/booze. There are a few simple guidelines to a decent marinade.
- Use an oil
- Use an acid
- Use a flavor (herbs, salt, pepper)
- Use a little sweetener
- Keep in mind the thing that makes Asian food so complex and flavorful is the successful melding of the 5 tastes: sweet, sour, salty/umami, bitter, and spicy/hot. You certainly don’t need every taste represented for a marinade to be successful but knowing what balance you are looking for is helpful.
Marinate the chicken and grill it.
For The Marinade
- 3/4 c Triple Sec
- 3/4 c Tequila
- 3/4 c fresh lime juice about 4 limes
- zest of 1 1/2 limes optional, more or less as you wish
- 1 T Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 T Honey
- scant handful roughly chopped cilantro optional, whatever fresh herbs you have on hand
- scant handful roughly chopped parsley optional, whatever fresh herbs you have on hand
- 2 tsp pepper
- 6 whole garlic cloves, smashed
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts put them in a plastic bag and pound them out flat for more even cooking
Combine all marinade ingredients in a glass dish, including the "shells" of the squeezed out limes, add 6 chicken breasts, and marinate at least 30 minutes, up to all day or overnight. Glass is non-reactive and has a long history of safe use. (I know everyone else marinates in plastic bags ... but do you really know what's happening to the plastic on a molecular level? Are any of those 6 plastic bag ingredients leaching into your food?)
Grill (or cook however you want) the chicken breasts. Let them rest a couple minutes after cooking before cutting.
Have some fresh cilantro, tomato, and red onion on hand to chop and sprinkle on top of the chicken. It's a small touch with a big visual and flavor payoff.