Thursday, April 26, 2012

Grab Your Maracas!

Tijuana Taxi by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
I really hope that, if you don't know this song, you will find a way to sample it!  This is a blast from the past - the 60s - when instrumental songs were all over the billboard hit charts.  Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass were extremely popular and this song was one of their best - in my opinion!  There's lots of songs out there about Mexico but they didn't have the perky driving beat I was looking for to go along with this chicken.  It's a festive chicken in many ways - it's super easy (clap your hands!), it's super fast (stomp your feet!), and it's fit for special occasions (celebrate THAT and shout hooray!)  You might want to locate your maracas before you start the song.  You're going to want them!

I'm excited to share this recipe with you today because I have TWO occasions in mind where you'll want to prepare this moist and tasty chicken.  First, it's an excellent choice for a Mother's Day BBQ - remember I told you I had your back for food options that will help you give Mom a day off on May 13th.  The second occasion can actually serve as a dry-run because it's Cinco De Mayo!  May 5th!  It's a Mexican holiday but it is widely celebrated throughout the United States.  We love a reason for a party, right?

I got the idea for this chicken from my thousands of trips to our Red Robin restaurant.  They have an entree called the Ensenada Chicken Platter.  It's my "go-to" dish there because I love it and it's fairly figure friendly!  The chicken breasts are juicy and tangy but not too spicy.  It's served with a green salad with thin and crispy tortilla strips.  It's also served with a dressing of your choice and pico de gallo.  I skip the dressing and get an extra serving of pico de gallo and use that to dress my salad.  They also give you some lime slices, which I woefully forgot to add to the photo above.  A fresh squeeze of lime really boosts the flavor!

I tried for years to figure out how they made this chicken.  Then one day, a few years ago, I got a chatty server who promptly spilled the beans -  
 You know when someone speaks the truth - the lightbulb goes on in your head and everything makes sense.  This made all the sense in the world to me. 

So I went home and promptly tried it.  And it was spot on!  I was soooo happy!  Now I could have my delicious Ensenada Chicken any time I wanted!  And I have!  I like to pair the chicken with my Black Bean Salad.  They are perfect together!

You can grill this chicken indoors on a grill pan on your stove or outdoors on the patio.  You're going to love how easy it is!  Que aproveche!

Ensenada Chicken
4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1 pkg.  dry Enchiliada sauce mix
2 - 3 limes
2 T. vegetable oil

Place the chicken breasts in a gallon-size storage bag and sprinkle in the enchilada powder mix.  Squeeze the juice from the limes into the bag and add the vegetable oil as well.  The oil acts as a facilitator, helping the spices and juice work into the flesh of the meat.  Work the air out of the bag and seal the top.  Squish the ingredients around with your hands on the outside of the bag, making sure the chicken gets a good coating.  Place on a plate and put in fridge.  Let marinate for at least an hour but not more than 8 - the acid from the lime juice will actually start to cook the flesh of the chicken making for a less then optimal finished product.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Prep your grill by heating to high and applying oil to the grate.  I like to use one of these rubber brushes that are treated and able to withstand the high temperatures.
To get the pretty grill marks, lay your chicken out on the grill slanted diagonally.  
Don't move them around.  Wait until there's a good sear mark then reposition them the other diagonal direction -
Flip them over and repeat the process.  This will take roughly 15 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is. 

Now your chicken has beautiful grill marks but it is not fully cooked.  In culinary school they taught us to take it to this point, then transfer the meat to a pan and finish it off in the oven - another 15 - 20 minutes.  Make sure they have achieved an internal temp of 165 degrees - juices should run clear but try not to poke too much as this will drain the moistness right out of the chicken.  You can also reverse the process and par cook the breasts in the oven and then throw them on the grill to give them the grill marks at the end.  Let the chicken rest a few minutes then serve!

1 comment:

  1. LOVE this meal from Red Robin. I am trying your recipe and hope it works well! Thanks for posting it! :)