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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cinco de Mayo with The Barefoot Contessa: Tequila Lime Chicken & Sagaponack Corn Pudding!

Tequila Lime Chicken & Sagaponack Corn Pudding
Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow and if I can't celebrate with the actual Barefoot Contessa,I can at least enjoy a couple of her fabulous recipes! (Although, Ina, if you're reading this, the offer still stands!). Ina's Tequila Lime Chicken and Sagaponack Corn Pudding are two dishes that definitely fit the bill for this holiday commemorating the Mexican army's underdog-style victory over the French at The Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Surprisingly, Cinco de Mayo receives limited attention in Mexico itself, but the date is observed nationwide as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

The Tequila Lime Chicken starts with chicken breasts marinated overnight in a delicious mixture of tequila, lime juice, jalapeño pepper and other spices. I love recipes where the bulk of the work is done the day before the party and, by those standards, this one couldn't be easier. In the spirit of full disclosure, I did tweak a couple ingredients: instead of "gold" tequila, I used "Añejo" because it was the only one we had on hand. Tequila is indigenous to Mexico and there is a variety of different types. Añejo tequila, also called "aged" or "vintage" tequila, is aged in oak barrels for 1-3 years, giving it a darker color and more complex flavor. Gold tequila, which is called for in the recipe, is a blend of blanco and reposado tequilas and is milder in flavor. 

Ready for the Grill!
In addition to the tequila swap, I also swapped some of the chicken breasts for some chicken thighs - gotta love the dark meat! I would caution you to be sure your chicken has the skin on it even though it is boneless, per the directions. The skin gets a beautiful crust or char on it from the grill that really adds alot of flavor. I also cooked the chicken on my indoor grillpan, on of my favorite kitchen gadgets of all time, rather than an outdoor grill and the chicken still had plenty of fabulous flavor. It was so easy to just remove the chicken from the marinade and pop it on the grill! Just be sure your chicken pieces are thin enough to cook completely. The breasts I purchased were very thick and took slightly longer to cook. Otherwise, this was a fabulous recipe: the chicken was flavorful with a delightful tanginess from the tequila and citrus and mild spice from the jalapeño and chili powder. I look forward to making this recipe not only for Cinco de Mayo but all Summer long!

Sagaponack Corn Pudding
What could possibly be the perfect accompaniment to Tequila Lime Chicken, you might ask? Well, Ina nailed it with her Sagaponack Corn Pudding (click here for recipe). A delicious mixture of fresh corn, onion, milk, half & half, corn meal and a few other ingredients, this is the perfect Summer side dish that also has great implications for Thanksgiving as well! I do have one major confession to make with the preparation of this recipe. Instead of using fresh corn, I used frozen Silver Queen Corn instead - blasphemy, I know! In my defense, Silver Queen corn is know for its succulent, sweet white kernels and, I have to tell you, this dish turned out perfectly - so if you are pressed for time, as I was, this is one way to go. Just be sure to defrost the corn prior to starting the recipe. Overall, this recipe is pretty straightforward, the only trouble I had was with the cooking time. I halved the recipe but it still took the entire 45 minutes plus 10 more minutes to cook and even then, I had to remove it from the bain marie (water bath) and pop it back in the oven to brown on top. Maybe it was because of the corn I used having more moisture in it but, boy, was it worth it! Deliciously creamy but not too rich, the finished dish had great texture from the sweet, crunchy corn kernels and the creamy pudding - yum! I will definitely be adding this recipe to the rotation.

If you are looking for recipes to please a crowd this Cinco de Mayo, consider this delicious duo. Oh, and be sure to pair with the margarita of your choice - enjoy!


Tequila Lime Chicken
Barefoot Contessa "Family Style" 2002
  • 1/2 cup gold tequila
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 to 6 limes)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeño pepper (1 pepper seeded)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 whole (6 split) boneless chicken breasts, skin on
Combine the tequila, lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, jalapeño pepper, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken breasts. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat a grill with coals and brush the rack with oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, sprinkle well with salt and pepper, and grill them skin-side down for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove from the grill to a plate. Cover tightly and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.


  1. I am after that corn pudding. You really did a great job on this dish

  2. Both the chicken and the corn pudding look fantastic. I can't wait to try both. Sadly, I've already made chicken fajitas for our Cinco de Mayo eve celebration but this sounds delicious anytime.

  3. Tequila Lime Chicken is a huge favorite of my family, but I am also eying that corn pudding...fabulous!

  4. Tequila Lime Chicken sounds wonderful (I mean...chicken, lime, and tequila!!! oh yeah!). I always cook my chicken with the skin on too. I do agree that it adds a lot of flavor (and also I always buy "bone in" pieces for the same reason). The corn pudding looks so yummy!!!!

  5. I've had the same thing happen in a water bath, Stephanie. Seems to happen with veggie dishes...mine was a carrot souffle. I always take it out at the end and let it brown.
    Hope you're all mended!

  6. Wow, the chicken looks delicious! Yum!

  7. Looks great Stephanie! You can never go wrong with an Ina recipe. Your food and adjustments worked very well. Beautiful!

  8. Hi there...saw you at my friend Elisabeth's Food and Thrift Finds and wanted to say hello! Love your blog...and this meal is FAB! Love Ina...she never, ever steers me wrong. My blog is The Weekend Gourmet, so we're sort of like food blog "cousins"!


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