Taste of Tucson: An Easy Chicken Dish for Hungry Mouths | Entertainment

Robin Mather special for the Arizona Daily Star

My best friend has two ravenous teenagers, and we often talk about how she can fuel their engines without mortgaging the house.

But cooking is neither his forte nor his passion. Although her skills are stronger than she thinks, her style of cooking might be best described as utilitarian. She wants recipes that are simple to prepare and that come together quickly. Today’s dish grew as we talked about what she had in the house and how best to use it.

She and her boys love spicy flavors, and this dish fills that craving. With a salad and bread or tortillas, dinner is complete. She could also use this chicken as a protein in some sort of meal bowl, perhaps with black beans, corn and rice or cauliflower rice. Any leftovers can be shredded for use in burritos or tacos a day or two later.

I warned her about some food safety issues.

First of all, if you have marinated raw poultry or fish in something, that marinade should be discarded or boiled if you want to use it for a sauce. I find it much easier to make twice as much marinade as I need and split it up so I can use the second half without messing with the boiling thing.

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Second, you can let the food marinate at room temperature for up to an hour. Any longer, however, and it should be refrigerated. This marinade is quite acidic and, like ceviche, will begin to “cook” or denature the proteins if marinated too long. This changes the texture of the protein, which we don’t want here. A short marinade also preserves the bright lime notes and does not alter the heat of the chipotles.

The addition of honey to the basting part of the marinade surprised her. “For sweetness? she says. Well, yes, I told him, but it’s mostly to help the basting sauce stick to the chicken. Sugar wouldn’t work here, but light corn syrup or molasses would. You don’t want too much, because like all sugars, it will char easily. Better to cook and flip the chicken several times than to let it cook completely on one side and then the other.

If you don’t have limes handy, you can substitute lemon or even orange juice and zest. This will change the flavor profile a bit, which can be handy if you need a refreshing alternative.

My friend is a savvy grocery shopper and asked if chicken thighs could be substituted for breasts or breast fillets as they are usually less expensive. Yes, I said, but they will need a little more cooking time. If it’s bone-in and skin-on thighs, slit the tops with a knife to help the marinade penetrate, then give them a few more turns and brushes.

I was tickled a few days later when she reported that her boys “sniffed that chicken.” It goes into her usual meal rotation, she said, but next time she’ll make twice as much, just to have leftovers for easy meals a day or two later.

This marinade is also good for chicken thighs with or without skin, as well as fish and shrimp. Broil or broil the chicken; I gave times for both. Note that you will be dividing the marinade in half, using half as a marinade that will be discarded and the other half as a brush while cooking the chicken – this is a food safety issue.

1 can chipotle peppers in adobo

2 tablespoons adobo sauce, canned chili peppers

Grated zest of 2 medium limes

¼ cup lime juice, from about 2 medium limes

1 small white onion, coarsely chopped

2 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or breast tenderloins

¼ cup chopped cilantro, for garnish

Heat grill or broiler in preparation for cooking. Lightly oil the grill grate if grilling.

Place chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, lime zest, lime juice, onion, garlic, salt, and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Whisk until the mixture is a smooth purée, about 1 minute.

Divide the marinade you just made in half and set half aside for basting. Place the chicken in the remaining marinade in a bowl or zip-top bag and let sit on the counter for 15-30 minutes. It is not necessary to refrigerate because the marinating time is short.

While the chicken is marinating, add the honey to the rest of the marinade you have reserved.

When the chicken is marinated, remove it from the marinade and discard the marinade. Place chicken on a griddle or grill and baste with remaining marinade. Cook 2 minutes, turn and baste again. Cook an additional 2 minutes. If your chicken breasts are thin or you’re using fillets, they’re probably done by now. The thighs will need another basting or two or two.

When the chicken is done, remove it to a dish and pour over any remaining marinade. Sprinkle the chopped cilantro over the chicken. Serve immediately.

Note: Leftover boneless chicken can be easily shredded in the food processor for a topping for burritos or tacos the next day.