The big Asian grocery store not far from my house had a great lime sale—20 limes for $1.00—so I came home with a bag of 20 limes and plans to make several lime dishes. This weekend we grilled some of this tequila lime chicken, which has become a favorite for us.
How long should you marinade chicken in a citrus-based liquid? Overnight or no more than a couple hours? For years I’ve heard you should not marinade your chicken in citrus liquids for more than an hour because it starts to “cook” the chicken, meaning that the outside layers of the chicken meat start to take on a white, cooked-like appearance. So of course when I saw recipes which called for marinating your chicken overnight in lime juice and other ingredients, I was skeptical and thought for sure that the chicken would be ruined. But I also saw many comments online at various cooking forums and recipe sites where people swore that their chicken turned out fantastic when marinating overnight and that it was tender and juicy, not tough or overcooked.
So this year I finally decided to try it and risk ruining a batch of chicken, and I am so glad that I did. Yes, the outside of the chicken does turn white, but when grilled the chicken is flavorful and tender. This recipe is now a favorite, and the chicken makes great fajitas. I make a large batch so that we can have leftovers for salads.
[Updated May 2014.]
- 6 boneless chicken breasts
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (not the bottled stuff)
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 cup gold tequila
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 or 4 grinds fresh black pepper
- refried beans
- Mexican rice
- sauteed or grilled onions and peppers
- whole wheat flour tortillas
- tomatoes or salsa
- sour cream
- In the medium bowl, stir together the lime juice, orange juice, tequila, cilantro, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Put the chicken breasts into the freezer bags, 3 per bag, and pour the marinade over the chicken. Turn the bags over a couple times, then put them in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.
- Preheat the grill to medium heat, and brush the grill rack with oil. Grill the chicken 10 minutes on the first side, then turn and cook another 8 minutes.
- Slice the chicken diagonally across the grain and serve with the fajita accompaniments.
2 zipper freezer bags
Prep time includes marinade time.
If you want to marinade for just a few hours, try slashing the chicken in a couple places before adding the marinade. This will help the flavors to penetrate better.
Michael likes to pour the cooked marinade over his fajitas. (If you choose to do this, please make sure you boil the marinade, not simmer. You want to kill any bacteria that may be present.) Reserve the marinade and bring it to a boil in a small pot, cooking for about 10 to 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.