One of my favorite cuisines to cook or eat is Latino food. I say Latino because this applies to not only Mexican cooking, but also Cuban, Costa Rican, Puerto Rican, etc. The main reason for this is because I enjoy the freshness Latino food brings to the palate, particularly in the flavors of cilantro (my all-time favorite herb to utilize) and fresh citrus (lime topping my favorites). What's interesting is that Latino food is a lot more intricate than people tend to think it to be, because you can generate so many complex flavors into one dish with Latino styles of cooking (mole, a sauce made from tons of ingredients to achieve a perfect balance of all flavors, being one of the prime examples). This dish is an extremely light and fresh Latino-style marinated chicken that is then grilled. It goes great with Cilantro-infused rice. I made this dish at my high school graduation party, and it was a huge hit (people liked it more than both of my mom's meat dishes at the party, sorry Mom!)
This recipe will do the measurements of rice by the cup, but the chicken will serve up to 15 people comfortably.
For the Rice (1 cup)
- 1 cup basmati rice, thoroughly washed
- 1 cup Water
- Salt + Pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, half of it bruised, the other half finely chopped
After washing the rice in a pot, fill the pot with the same amount of water as you put in rice. The water level should be higher than that of the rice . Season the rice with salt and pepper to your liking, then add in the bruised portion of cilantro. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and lower to a simmer. Each cup of rice should take roughly 8-10 minutes to fully cook. The best way to tell if the rice is done is to see if any of the rice grains are still bright white in the center. If they are, the rice needs more time to cook. After the rice is done cooking, let it rest for about 5-10 minutes, then fluff it with a fork. Mix in the chopped cilantro, and serve.
For the Chicken
- 5 pounds chicken breasts, cut to your liking (I cut them into small 1-ounce portions, but had to use grill paper on the grill so that it wouldn't fall through/disintegrate. On the other hand, the chicken cooks much more quickly in smaller portions, so do what you want for this part.
- Zest and juice of 5 limes (1 lime per pound)
- 3 cups of fresh chopped cilantro, stems and all
- 1 1/2 diced red onions
- 1/2 cup soy sauce (Not a traditional Latino seasoning, but this dish prefers soy sauce over salt to help bring all the flavors together)
- 1 cup grated horseradish
- 1/4 cup tropical hot sauce (This is an interesting ingredient that adds some heat. I used pineapple habanero salsa for this.)
- Zest and juice of 2 lemons
Combine all of the above ingredients together, and let the chicken marinate for at least an hour (overnight is preferable, however). Grill the chicken on high heat for both sides (1-2 ounce portions will take approximately 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side to cook thoroughly. Serve with cilantro rice.
Let me know what you think of this dish, and what you would do differently! If you make it, let me know how it tastes! Enjoy!