Tequila Sunrise Grilled Chicken Fajitas with Rickard’s White Finish

With Spring attempting to break through I’ve made the decision to not let the weather curb my grilling and with warm weather and grilling comes cravings for fresh produce and cold beer in my fridge.

I was successful in making my first fresh salsa as well as guacamole this week and I wanted to try my hand at grilled chicken fajitas despite a rainy day in Winnipeg.

A recent line of marinades I’ve discovered at my local Sobeys is from Sauza Tequila. We’d tried one with beef before but I was intrigued to give their Tequila Sunrise a try on chicken breast.  I put about 3/4 of the bottle in a freezer bag with 5 chicken breasts and placed them in the fridge. I left the chicken in the marinade for 2.5 hours taking it out every 30 minutes or so to mix the contents up and try to get great coverage on my chicken.

When it comes to beer I enjoy many different ones. I’m a mood beer drinker and as such I am a huge fan of the Rickard’s Taster Pack because each beer is truly distinctive in their flavour. This fact was key in my decision to pull out a bottle of Rickard’s White to warm on the counter for use in my meal that evening.

I went with Rickard’s White because I felt the orange and coriander notes would enhance and pair well with the orange, lemon and lime citrus flavours of the Sauza marinade,as well as the cilantro in both the salsa and guacamole I’d made, and Kevin was positive about the pairing when I ran it by him.

He’s my experimentation touch stone. If he thinks the flavour profile doesn’t blend he’s pretty upfront before I begin.

The Daring Duo - Sauza Tequlia Sunrise Marinade and Rickard's White.

The Daring Duo – Sauza Tequlia Sunrise Marinade and Rickard’s White.

Kevin also taught me that it is ideal to use room temperature beer when you cook with it so I had the bottle warming up on the counter top for 2 hours before I used it.

To go with my grilled chicken breast I cut up one purple onion and two bell peppers.

One purple onion, one yellow pepper and one red pepper. Chopped and ready to go.

One purple onion, one yellow pepper and one red pepper. Chopped and ready to go.

I tossed them in the remaining 1/4 bottle of the Sauza Marinade before placing them in warmed frying pan with 2 tablespoons of heated grape seed oil on medium low (between 3 and 4) heat and left them to soften. When the onions began to become translucent I turned the heat down to low and let them continue to caramelize.

Onions and peppers - caramelized and ready for their Rickard's finish.

Onions and peppers – caramelized and ready for their Rickard’s finish.

The marinade coated the onions and peppers nicely and as they caramelized in the frying pan the sauce nicely thickened so they were coated in a flavourful sauce, similar in thickness to the packaged sauces you can pick up at a grocery store. When the onions reached the glassy state I took the bottle of Rickard’s White and did a turn and a half around the pan and stirred my veggies around so they got covered in the beer and then let it continue to simmer over low heat.

With my onions and peppers taking care of themselves I turn my attention to the chicken.

Marinated chicken breasts.

Marinated chicken breasts.

I heated my grill up for 20 minutes as it was raining and this can affect the overall temperature. I place my chicken on the grill and set the timer for 20 minutes and when the timer went off I flipped the chicken and was delighted at the nice grill marks. Another 20 minutes and I put the chicken on a plate to rest for 5 minutes.

While the chicken rested I removed my onions and peppers from the frying pan and kept it on the heat to keep warm.

After the 5 minute rest I sliced the chicken into strips and placed them into the pan my onions and peppers had just been removed from. I poured approx 1/4 cup of the Rickard’s into the pan and let it fry off while tossing the chicken strips.

Finished meal ready for the table.

Finished meal ready for the table.

After the Rickard’s had cooked off I combined the chicken strips with my onions and peppers and served with fresh guacamole and salsa on tortillas.

My dad, who had dropped in, was invited for dinner and he had high praise for how great the chicken turned out. I have to agree that it was juicy and flavourful. The Rickard’s added a nice depth to the marinade from Sauza.

Not bad for a moment of I think this will work….

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Wheel of Google!

Saturdays are the days I cook the most in our house. Kevin tends to cook for the whole week so I agreed to give him one day of rest from out kitchen.

This Saturday I felt myself wanting to make something different. I had some boneless chicken breasts and did what many do…headed to Google for a suggestion of what I could make today.

Google search of boneless chicken breasts returned with this recipe suggestion. I am beginning to think I should just start at Canadian Living when looking for recipes as when they come up in the search list it always sounds like a winner.

Here is all of my ingredients prepped and ready to go.

Starting top left: 1 cup ricotta, just over a pound cut up boneless skinless chicken breasts, grated lemon peel, 2 tablesoons lemon juice, 1 cup chopped white mushrooms, 4 cups baby spinach and 4 cups dry shaped pasta

I had the ingredients on hand for this one for the most part. I just went with the pasta and baby spinach I had on hand. I also love mushrooms so chopped up a cup of them to add. I got more than enough lemon juice from the one lemon I used for the grated lemon peel.

Instead of the penne recommended I went with the chicken and 4-leaf clover shaped pasta I bought in a fundraiser.

My chicken and shamrock shaped pasta I bought in a fundraiser.

I didn’t have any penne on had but I had purchased some shaped pasta from a fundraiser and decided that this could be a fun way to use it up as the kids were going to be eating this. So it was going to be a blend of chicken/shamrock shapes.

It boiled up well and was al dente after about 8 minutes of boiling. It also didn’t stick too badly so I didn’t end up with a huge lump of pasta to work with.

Chicken in the pan with butter.

Chicken in the pan with butter.

I keep a kitchen scale on top of my microwave so I followed the directions and weighed out the proper amount of chicken. Turns out that 2 chicken breasts purchased from Costco weigh just over a pound (16 ounces) and I was cooking for 5 (Kevin, myself, almost 10 year old, 7 year old and 3 year old) and my younger two kids share a serving between them I figured a bit more chicken couldn’t be too bad. As I was cooking the chicken though I noticed some of my pieces seemed a bit large so I took the time to cut some of them in half so they were more like strips of chicken rather than chunks.

KUB foil wrapped garlic bread.

KUB foil wrapped garlic bread.

When I started melting the butter in my pan I started my oven for the garlic bread I was going to pair dinner with. I like to go with this particular style of garlic bread. I found it timed well. When I pulled the pasta dish off the stove to serve the bread was ready to be served as well.

Chicken with the addition of garlic and mushrooms.

Chicken with the addition of garlic and mushrooms.

When the chicken was cooked through I added the minced garlic. I have a garlic press from Tupperware that I just love and is not only easy to use but easy to clean. We’ve had it for about a year and when I first bought it I didn’t think it would get used as much as it does…sometimes daily.

At this time I also put my mushrooms in to soften with the garlic. This was an addition I decided to go with on the fly.

Adding the remaining ingredients - minus the spinach.

Adding the remaining ingredients – minus the spinach.

To be honest if I had had some dry white wine in the house I would have put a tablespoon or two in the pan before adding everything else in Step 3. I think it would have given a nice flavour. The ricotta melted nicely and it became a very creamy sauce with the chicken, garlic and mushrooms.

Baby spinach in to the pan.

Baby spinach in to the pan.

I love cooking with spinach when I can. I have picky eaters but they will gobble spinach down if it is served in a tasty way. I liked the fact that this recipe was light using ricotta to build the sauce and then the added benefit of getting some fresh dark leafy greens into my kids.

When I am cooking with something that requires you to walk away and let it do it’s thing I find I’m a bit of a helicopter cook. I’m often trying to keep busy and resist the urge to be constantly stirring it when leaving it be is the right course of action.

Wilted down spinach. Almost done.

Wilted down spinach. Almost done.

As the spinach wilts down the water adds even more liquid to the sauce and it stays creamy. When I add the prepared pasta into the pan to toss and finish the dish the pasta soaks up a good majority of the liquid.

Finished meal with the pasta and parmesan cheese added in.

Finished meal with the pasta and parmesan cheese added in.

The reactions from the family were positive. I didn’t get the lemon notes as much as I was hoping to but I’ve also been sick for the last week and my palate isn’t where it needs to be yet either. The three kids enjoyed the meal and ate it quickly and enthusiastically. There was enough for seconds for a few and lunch for me on Monday.

Lemony Chicken and Ricotta Pasta

From Canadian Living Online

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (1 L) penne pasta, (about 12 oz/375 g)
  • 12 oz (340 g) chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
  • 3 minced cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup (250 mL) light ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 4 cups (1 L) packed trimmed shredded spinach

Preparation

In large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender but firm. Drain and return to pot, reserving 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, cut chicken breasts crosswise into slices. In nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat; brown chicken, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add reserved cooking liquid, ricotta cheese, half of the Parmesan cheese, the lemon rind and juice, salt, pepper and nutmeg; bring to simmer.

Add spinach; stir until wilted. Add to pasta and toss to coat. Serve sprinkled with remaining Parmesan cheese.