Written by Rick McLaughlin

Friday, 01 September 2006

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Margarita Chicken with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Grilled Margarita Chicken Here's my second installment and I thought I might do something simple enough even a caveman could do it. Okay, yes, that was a blatant rip-off of the GEICO ad, but I had to do it. I was considering "Roast Duck with a Mango Salsa", but there are too many folks out there who consider duck too greasy and who simply do not like the flavor. So, with nods to our grotto-dwelling hominids, I decided to pull up a summer classic that works great for a family meal or can be presented as a romantic evening (that's a hint to Michael, it could go along way to apologizing to Deanna).

This recipe is slightly different then most margarita marinated chicken in fact alone; it uses real, although diluted, margarita to marinade in. There are a lot of bad recipes out there that are called "Margarita Chicken", but where's the margarita in them? Oh, and this is another grilling recipe. I told you I love to grill, get used to it. This recipe also works well with swordfish in place of the chicken.


6 Boneless – Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Limes
6 Fresh Cilantro Sprigs
1 One Gallon "Zip-loc" type Freezer Bag

5 oz Tequila
3 oz Triple Sec
8 oz Real Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon Course Kosher Salt
½ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Cup Canola Oil

1 Mango – peeled, seeded, and finely cubed
2 Avocado – peeled, seeded, and finely cubed
1 Large Tomato – finely diced
1 Red Pepper – finely diced
1 Small Red Onion – finely diced
1 Clove Garlic - minced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Cilantro - minced
Course Kosher Salt to taste

Yellow Rice:
2-1/2 cups basmati or jasmine rice
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
5 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 teaspoon turmeric

Margarita Chicken Recipe

Since all three elements of this dish require different times to relax, meld flavors, or cook, it works out great in managing your time by "layering" the steps so everything comes out at the same time, ready to serve. So, since the marinade process takes the longest, that's where we are going to start.

Step 1. Get that chicken drunk!
Margarita Marinated Chicken

Gather all the ingredients listed in the "Marinade" section above. Combine the ingredients in a large glass measuring cup or a medium glass bowl, and whisk until completely mixed. Place your chicken breasts in the one gallon freezer bag and add your marinade mixture, then seal the bag. While sealing the bag, try and get as much of the air out as possible. This makes sure your chicken is in complete contact with the liquid. Place this bag in the fridge to marinate for at least two hours. You can leave the chicken in there for up to six hours, but any longer and the acid in the lime juice will make the ole yard bird tough and dry.

As a word of warning, do not substitute the cheaper, "plain" zipper sealed bags for freezer bags. They are too thin, the chicken stands a good chance of poking through, and you'll end up with a mess. For even added protection, place the zip-loc bag while marinating in a cake pan or pie plate….helps to keep the old fridge from getting messy.

Step 2. It's time to do the 'Forbidden Dance':
Mango Salsa

Peel, pit, and cut into small cube your mango and avocado. Dice up your tomato, red pepper, and red onion. Mince your garlic and cilantro. Place all these ingredients into bowl, and fold with a rubber spatula and taste. Mmmm. Add salt to taste. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to relax.

Okay, we are now in the "hurry up and wait" stage. Since we have time on our hands and all the fixin's out, why not take the time to make yourself a "Classic" Margarita and enjoy a smoke. For those of you who have never had a margarita from scratch, all there is four ingredients: 1 1/2 oz. tequila, 1/2 oz. triple sec, 2 tablespoons lime juice, dash of salt. Mix these items together in a shaker, along with 2 to 3 ice cubes, and shake the shit out of them. Take a lime wedge and wet the rim of a glass, roll that rim in coarse salt, and fill with the mixture from the shaker. Pretty simple, huh?

Margarita with Salt 

All right, break is up, time to face the heat.

Step 3. "Which is more of a coward; chicken or yellow rice?":

Timing now comes into play here. Like a good quarterback knows where his receiver will be by how long the receiver has been running and can mate up the ball with the receiver, a good cook knows how to plan to have all things come out together, ready to eat. So, if you know it takes about 20 to 25 minutes for your rice to cook, including that it will stand for 5 to 10 minutes more after removing it from the heat; you now have a schedule for when to start the chicken and get everything on the table. Before you start the rice, start your grill, on "High", as usual. You want to be able to go out and throw the bird straight on to the grate. FYI, your chicken will be on the grill for about 6 to 10 minutes per side, so plan accordingly. 

You could cheat here and use a prepackaged yellow rice mix here, but you'll not have the flavor and it won't be as healthy. In a large pan with a tight fitting lid, heat two table spoons of oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the rice for a couple of minutes, till a slight color starts to appear. Combine the remaining yellow rice ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not remove the cover until all the liquid is absorbed. Doing so can make for gummy rice. Remove from heat and let relax for at least 5 minutes. Fluff and re-cover until ready to serve. 

Yellow Rice Seasonings Yellow Rice

Step 4. "Here chicky, chicky, chicky":

After the rice has cooked undisturbed for at least 10 minutes, you can start the chicken. Retrieve your chicken from the fridge; pour the remaining liquid down the drain. Believe me, even with the tequila, you don't want to consume any of that liquid. Place your chicken meat side (I know it's boneless, but you should be able to identify which side the bones were removed from) down on the hot grill, and turn the heat down to medium. After about 3 to 5 minutes, turn the chicken 90 degrees, still meat side down. We're making those pretty "grill marks". After the breasts have been on the grill 10 minutes total time, flip them over, close the lid to your grill, and go check your rice. Most of the liquid should be absorbed by now. If no liquid is readily visible, tilt the pan slightly and see if any shows up then. If not, follow, the final step in the rice instructions, if there is some liquid, place back on heat, go check your chicken, and come back in a couple of minutes to check again. Once the chicken has been grilled a total of 15 minutes, whip out your thermometer and check it for doneness. The finished temp desired is 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Since there isn't a whole lot of mass to the chicken, it's best to let the meat reach 180 while it's still on the grill. Once you hit 180, it's time to plate.

Step 5. "There's no business like show business…":

If you take a minute to "plate" this meal for your guest, you can make a pretty and impressive display and make a "show" of it. Place a bed of the rice down first, mashing lightly down the center to make a bed for the chicken breasts. Next, place the breasts on the rice, and spoon a couple of healthy tablespoons of the salsa mix across the chicken at an angle. For a nice color contrast, and to add veggies to the meal, I serve steamed broccoli florets arranged on each side of the rice bed. (see the picture)
Margarita Chicken

That's it! That's my recipe for September. If you try this recipe, let me know how it went. If it gets you lucky with your date, include full details and photos. Not of you cooking, silly, of you getting lucky!

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© 2006, Kevin Godbee & Rick McLaughlin. Re-print with permission only.
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Rick McLaughlin





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