Friday, August 28, 2009

Wake up your taste buds with a shot of Tequila Lime Chicken

By Helen Klein

Those who read this column regularly are well aware that I am not a fan of shy flavors.

When I cook, I gravitate to assertive tastes and bright colors which both look and taste spectacular.

Not surprisingly, therefore, I am a fan of lime. The small green fruit may fit neatly in the palm of my hand, but its big taste takes me far away to climes where palm trees bend gently in the breeze. That’s a good thought to keep in mind when I toil in the summer heat in my Brooklyn kitchen.

I’m also a major-league fan of cumin, whose dusky taste adds a haunting back note to some of my favorite foods, from chili to hummus.

The two flavorings team up with tequila, garlic and onion to create a chicken dish that is easy and appealing, and has become a favorite in my household.

It’s also simple to alter. Cut the chicken in chunks if you want to sauté it on the stove. Keep the cutlets whole, if you want to throw them on the grill. Either way, the resulting main course will be the centerpiece of a simple dinner, accompanied by a side dish such as yellow rice.

I have made this dish with bottled lime juice, and it’s still good. But, it’s way better if the lime juice is fresh-squeezed -- not to mention that youl’ll get to enjoy the tantalizing fragrance of citrus that will cling to your fingertips as you cook.

Tequlia Lime Chicken


1 lb. chicken cutlets
¼ cup tequila
¼ cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp. cumin
1 medium onion, preferably Vidalia, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbl. olive oil
1 red pepper, cored and sliced
1 yellow pepper, cored and sliced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped


Cut chicken into chunks. Marinate in tequila, lime juice, cumin, onion, garlic, salt and pepper for 1-2 hours.Heat olive oil in large skillet. When oil is sizzling, add chicken (strained from marinade, which should be reserved). Cook, tossing occasionally, till golden on all sides.

Add onion, strained from marinade, and sauté till tender.

Add colored peppers, and continue to sauté till peppers are crisp-tender.Add marinate, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, till liquid is reduced and meat is tender and flavorful. Add additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serves 4.

Note: When I grill the chicken cutlets whole, I serve with strips of pepper that I have previously grilled. To grill peppers, put whole ones on greased grates over medium-high heat, cooking for about 3-4 minutes per side, till blackened all over. Blackened peel and core should be removed once peppers are cool to the touch. The peppers can then be refrigerated for future use.


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