(Taken in iPhone post test grilling and plating)
When I got the call inviting me on to cook on the Today Show Plaza, I had no idea what I was going to cook. They told me the series was going to be on summer grilling. If you read this blog, you know I’ve only talked about grilling once. And it was here, when I wrote for LATINA magazine. I’ve never really revisited it or expanded on grilled dishes outside causal mentions here and there every summer season.
I took on the challenge because we grill every weekend so I’m fabulously comfortable with it, but also because I really did want to showcase something I’ve never focused on. How fun would that be.
After submitting numerous recipes, we came up with grilled vegetable skewers for the online streaming segment and a simple but crazy delicious citrus mojo-infused grilled chicken with a vibrant and fresco mango and jalapeño relish to top.
The fun part was coming up with the different skewers but I’ll chat about that in a later post because there was so much in involved in making them, they really do deserve their own post.. especially the sauces!
But this chicken! It was going to be on prime time morning TV so we had to make it right and attractive. And it was simple enough to do just that. Sometimes you just can’t reinvent the wheel when you’re about to entertain and introduce something new to 5 million people.
So I stuck with what I know.
We grill chicken a lot at casa Herrera, as does every American and Caribbean home… it’s such a great way of easily cooking foods during summer. Little fuss, little time, and cray good flavors.
And while admittedly there’s nothing over the top fancy about this pollo, it’s all in the marinade… and that relish!
I took this staple chicken dinner and adapted it for the grill. Mojos is our basic seasoning liquid. They’re glorious. There are varying recipes depending on what you’re making, but for our pan-fried chicken breasts, it’s a simple cocktail mix of fresh squeezed lemon juice, oregano, salt, onions, and tons of garlic. Tons.of.garlic.
I grilled and grilled and grilled home the week before in prep of in order to perfect measurements and note the exact coal temperatures. It’s one thing to just grill for yourself; a complete other when instructing others whom may not have ever lit one! And after it was all said in done in my backyard, it smelled like a fire pit and we (that being my bother whom assisted in the entire testing process) just enjoyed a lovely summer dinner topped with a bright and refreshing mango and jalapeño relish or salsa. The idea was to use pineapple as I’ve done in this post, but since we grilled pineapple for the skewers, we thought mangoes would be amazing. The heat level was perfect and the bright cilantro pulled it all together.
And that’s what we did on the Plaza. We made this perfectly charred chicken breast with the same mojo I use to my pollo en sarten. The only addition was squeezing some fresh orange juice on it. And that just made that chicken sing!!
And they were.
If you watched the segment, great! If not, here it is, both the online streaming and the broadcast…
Due take note however… I was in a hurry to get the relish done with Carson… and not having remembered I had a whole prop set behind me to grab a clean bowl, I poured the marinade all over the chicken already on the grill! Al Roker seemed to love the idea… but you know what can happen, right?! A coal-fired grill could have easily be burned out! But who cares?!?! This is home cooking, in your backyard, at a friends’ house, or in the park! Just light it back up.
Fortunately, we were good and our grill was nice and piping hot!
From my backyard to yours, enjoy this wildly easy chicken dinner this summer… and whenever your palate fancies some good, good food!
You’ll be delighted at how easy it is to make! And that relish, tho. Don’t forget to make it. It’s golden!
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself. B-
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CITRUS MOJO-INFUSED GRILLED CHICKEN
- 2 lbs. of chicken (preferably breasts and thighs), boneless and skinless
- 1 white onion, sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 tbsp. oregano
- Juice from 3 lemons
- Juice from 1/2 of a medium orange
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
Pound chicken to equal-sized pieces, if not already (each piece should be approximately 3/4-inch thick). Place chicken on a large platter, and season with salt, pepper and oregano. Rub garlic on each piece of chicken, covering evenly. Squeeze the lemon and orange over the chicken evenly and top with onions.
Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (an hour is preferable). Remove from the fridge and let sit for 5 minutes before cooking, but be sure to fire up the grill 30 minutes before ready to cook the chicken.
When ready to cook, make sure the grill rack is oiled. Once the grill temperature is about 350 degrees, transfer chicken to the grill using tongs. Cook on each side for approximately 3 to 4 minutes or until slightly charred and cooked in center. Pouring some of the marinate on will keep the chicken juicy as it’s cooking.
Transfer to serving dish or platter. Top with desired sauce.
MANGO & JALAPENO RELISH
- 3 mangos, cored and cubed
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 lemon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- Pinch of salt (to taste)
In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the orange juice. Once mixed, gently stir in the orange juice. Chill or serve at room temperature