You know what they say, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. So, I had a chicken in hand, and went two different ways with it.
My husband won a gigantic bottle of tequila at his office Christmas party, and of course, my head went immediately to Tequila Lime Chicken. I knew I could get two full meals plus leftovers out of my bird, so I decided to marinate the wings and legs in tequila, lime, chipotle, and garlic. For the breast meat, I chose a lemon and rosemary marinade.
Marinating imparts so much flavor to meats. A little bit of work ahead of time can really turn up the dial on your dishes. Generally, I recommend letting your marinade set for at least 30 minutes, but up to overnight. The longer it soaks up the goodness, the more flavor you’ll taste in the end.
I planned to pair the Tequila Lime Chicken with homemade refried beans and a spinach salad with roasted corn, tomatoes, avocado, and a roasted pablano vinaigrette. So I got the corn and peppers into a hot oven first. Then I went to town on my mise en place- that’s the official term for cutting and preparing ingredients before doing the cooking. It means “everything in place”.
Meanwhile, I heated an oven safe pan to medium high heat. I added my chicken, skin side down, for just a couple of minutes. After flipping it over, I transferred the pan to the oven to finish the cooking.
All of that brown is caramelization, which adds to the flavor of the meat.
While the chicken continued to do its thing, I started my beans with red onions, garlic, and serrano and jalapeno peppers.
Then, I added pinto beans, Mexican seasonings, and a bit of chicken stock
and allowed that to cook down a few minutes.
Then, all I had to do was blend it all together and refry it in the pot. Rather than buying refried beans in a can that is full of excess sodium, I was able to create my own version and control my ingredients.
On to the salad! I peeled the skin off of my roasted peppers and made a simple dressing using apple cider vinegar, agave nectar for sweetness, onion, garlic, cilantro, and extra virgin olive oil.
Chopping up a few tomatoes, scallions, and stripping my corn off the cob (using one of my favorite gadgets ever- the corn stripper from Pampered Chef) only took a few seconds. Sadly, the avocado didn’t look so hot on the inside. I refuse to use ingredients that aren’t high quality, so I had to pass on that.
A quick toss with my homemade dressing, and we were ready to plate our dinner!
I squeezed a bit of fresh lime juice over the chicken and topped the refried beans with a little jack cheese. Ta dah!
When I tell you that this chicken was so tender it was pulling right off the bone and melting in my mouth, I am not kidding. Wow! So delicious. The skin had a hint of lime flavor to it, but the real benefits of marination came through in the overall flavor, juiciness, and amazing texture of the chicken. I could taste the layers of veggies in the beans, and the salad was a fresh, bright, cool accompaniment.
Success! I love when a plan comes to fruition. So, here’s just one more way to utilize your ingredients in multiple applications to get the most out of your dollar and your food. I’m constantly trying to find new avenues to make that happen for my husband and I AND for my clients. Lots of folks don’t generally think they can make homemade foods like refried beans or a fancy sounding item that one might see on a restaurant menu. I am happy to make these kinds of foods accessible to my clients and surprise them with their ability to create delicious dishes in their own kitchens.
The Lemon Rosemary Chicken is still marinating in the fridge. I’m roasting it up for a friend and I to have for lunch. I’ll keep you posted.
Happy Holidays, Y’all. Here’s to good eating and lots of love this holiday season!