Spicy Tequila Lime Chicken
Mess Level: Moderate
Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 30 min
- 4 Chicken Breasts
- 1 ½ Cups Tequila
- 1 Yellow Onion
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Lime
- 1 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Cheddar Cheese
- 1 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper (Optional)
- 1 Jalapeno (Optional)
- Pepper to taste
- 5 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 3 Cups Water + More
- 1 Cup Ice
- Oil for searing
- To make the brine bring one cup of water and 4 Tablespoons of Kosher Salt to a boil. As soon as the salt is dissolved, take it off the heat and add the ice. Add cold water to the solution until you reach 4 cups total of liquid. Feel the mixture and make sure it is cool.
- Trim any big chunks of fat hanging off the chicken. Don’t go nuts, fat is a flavor carrier and will help keep the meat moist.
- Submerge the chicken fully into the brine. If it bobs to the top, fill another container with water and set that container inside the one with the brine to take up space and keep the chicken submerged. Refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to 24 hours.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 Fahrenheit. Slice the onion and jalapeno then peel and crush the garlic.
- Heat a large cast iron or dutch oven to medium-high heat and drizzle in enough oil to lightly coat the bottom.
- Once the skillet is hot, lay the chicken breasts in with the pretty side facing down. Sprinkle salt and pepper over them and then leave them alone to sear for a few minutes. They are ready to flip when they come loose easily from the pan. Flip them and season the other side with salt and pepper.
- Let them sear for 2-3 minutes, then add in the onion, jalapeno, crushed red pepper, garlic, and tequila. Add water if needed to bring the liquid 3/4 of the way up the chicken then bring to a boil.
- As soon as it boils, turn off the heat and cover the dish with a lid or foil. Place in the oven and let it cook until the chicken reads an internal temperature of 165 Fahrenheit or is no longer pink in the middle. About 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the chicken.
- Remove the Chicken to a bowl and let it rest.
- Meanwhile put the pan back on the stove and bring to a boil. Boil until the liquid has reduced and begins to become thick, about 5-10 minutes. It will be ready when you can make a path through the sauce with a spoon and the sauce takes a minute to run back in.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the butter and grated cheddar cheese. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve with tortilla chips, rice, pasta or just on its own! Enjoy!
Note: You can skip the brining if you’d like but I’d recommend using chicken thighs if that is the case because they’re naturally more tender.
Did You Make It? Tag Us!
What is braising?
- Low and slow is the way to go!
Braising is a when you cook something in the oven on low heat covered ¾ of the way up with liquid. It's a great thing to do with tough cuts of meat. Heck, you could braise a flip-flop and it would come out tender.
What does brining do?
- It's kind of like sending your meat to the spa...
Brining is soaking a muscle in a salt water solution. The salt unravels the proteins which allow them to hold more moisture during cooking, giving you a juicy, finished product.
How do I keep my chicken from being dry?
- DO NOT OVERCOOK IT!
Buy an instant-read thermometer and never let it cook past 165 Fahrenheit. Other good choices are brining and braising the chicken. These will all help it retain moisture.
Why did we sear the chicken before braising it?
- Seal in the goodness!
Searing the meat caramelizes some of the sugars giving you a better flavor and better texture because as the sugars caramelize, they form a crust.
Ramblings of a Line Cook
I had a giant bottle of Jose Cuervo in Kansas City. Half the bottle had been drunk during an exciting, summer night and since that hangover, I’ve had no desire to touch the stuff. Somehow the bottle followed me to Colorado and has sat untouched in a dark cabinet for two years. I rearranged the kitchen last week and my eye fell on the bottle of tequila and some limes and an idea was born.
If you google a recipe for Tequila Lime Chicken 90% of them have you marinating the chicken in a tequila, lime and jalapeno blend and then grilling the chicken. And that’s all the contact that the chicken has with the Tequila and Lime. Really you’re getting chicken with a hint of lime and a tequila afterthought. Not very flavorful at all.
Then we cross the whole bridge of marinating meat. A marinade only penetrates the outer cells. This gives you very little flavor and does nothing to make the rest of the chicken more tender. This simply wouldn’t do so I created my own recipe and man oh man did it turn out good!
I used chicken breasts but threw them in a quick, 15-minute brine which tenderizes the chicken on a much deeper level than a marinade and then I braised them with onions, jalapenos and LOT of tequila. This is a moist cooking method, perfect for tougher cuts of meat like the chicken breast.
A huge bonus is once the chicken has cooked you can make a sauce out of the delicious tequila-onion mixture, finish it with lime juice and a little cheese and thank whoever had the brilliant idea to ferment an agave plant. P.S you can also skip the jalapeno and red pepper if spicy ain’t your thing.