today’s post is a special one: not only are we going to talk about my favorite grilled chicken recipe for summer, grilled mojito chicken, but also it’s part of a virtual midsummer potluck for peace. the idea here is that a bunch of fellow food bloggers are all sharing recipes today that would be good to bring to a picnic and also opening up some space for dialogue about what’s happening in the world.
technically we were each supposed to bring a dish from our heritage, buuuuut i decide to bend the rules a little on that one (ok, a lot: i have zero cuban heritage) and instead choose a recipe that tastes delicious and was our entrée to making friends in a new city.
five (five?!?) years ago, my husband and i moved from new england to houston, texas for his job. living in houston turned out to be a challenge in ALL the ways, including making friends. we were supposed to be there for at least two years but ended up leaving after just one year for a bunch of reasons, including feeling like we just weren’t finding “our people”.
perhaps unsurprisingly then, i did a lot of cooking and baking and experimenting in the kitchen the year we lived there, partly because i like it and it’s a stress reliever for me and partly because it’s something i can do by myself (aka it didn’t require having any local friends).
shortly before we left houston, i decided to try this grilled mojito chicken recipe. i headed to the store to grab the ingredients, including the mint syrup the recipe calls for. the only kind of mint syrup the store i went to had was dyed bright green. for some reason – we’ll call it laziness + impatience + blissful ignorance – i decided that this bright green syrup would be fine, that it wouldn’t dye the chicken bright, leprechaun green (we know where this is going, right? spoiler alert: my husband and i refer to this recipe not as “grilled mojito chicken” but as “leprechaun chicken”…).
flash forward to me sending my husband (fiancé at the time and he still married me!) out to the communal grills at our apartment complex to grill this bright, bright green chicken. of course there was someone else out there grilling his dinner at the same time and obviously the screaming green chicken did not go unnoticed.
well, my husband and this other guy got to talking and it turned out that he and his wife were also recent transplants to houston, struggling to fit in and find their people too. the husbands exchanged contact information and the four of us got together soon afterwards for dinner. and just like that, we had found some people.
we had dinner with them a few times in those final weeks before we moved back to new england and the night before we left, they came over to our place to say goodbye and give us some gifts to remember them/houston by. there was a wistful sense among all four of us ‘if only we’d met sooner…’.
all of this is a long-winded way to say the following: 1) don’t buy green mint syrup unless you are willing to eat bright green chicken and 2) you never know when you might be about to meet someone interesting, someone you could be friends with, if only you are willing to give them/the place/bright green chicken a chance. so maybe on second thought, buy the green syrup after all – it could be a conversation starter with a stranger/new friend.
so tell me, what the most unusual circumstance in which you’ve met a friend?
and speaking of new friends, keep scrolling after the recipe below to check out all of the mouth-watering recipes my blogger friends have brought to this virtual picnic! special thanks to saghar of lab noon for organizing this lovely event!
ps – this grilled mojito chicken is delicious with a black bean and mango quinoa salad that i’m sharing later this week. sign up for the email newsletter to be alerted once the recipe is posted!
- 9 limes, divided
- ½ cup (4 fl. oz. / 120 ml) plus 2 tablespoons light rum, divided
- 1/3 cup (2 ¾ fl. oz. / 80 ml) mint syrup, see notes
- 1 tablespoon neutral flavored oil, such as extra light olive oil
- ½ cup (1/2 oz. / 15 g.) finely chopped fresh mint
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (about 3 pounds / 1361 g.)
- squeeze 5 – 6 of the limes, until you have ¾ cup (6 fl. oz. / 180 ml) fresh lime juice. in a small bowl or large glass measuring cup, combine the lime juice, the ½ cup of rum, mint syrup, oil, chopped mint, and salt. whisk to combine.
- put the chicken in a resealable bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. seal the bag and turn it over several times to coat the chicken in the marinade. marinate the chicken for 4 hours in the refrigerator, turning the bag to coat the chicken twice during that time.
- while the chicken is marinating, quarter 3 of the limes lengthwise (you may have 1 lime leftover, depending on how juicy your limes were in step 1). put the lime quarters in a small shallow bowl and pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of light rum over them. toss the limes to coat them in the rum then cover and leave them to stand at room temperature while the chicken marinates.
- prepare a medium – hot (350 – 400° F) grill. leaving some room over indirect heat to add the limes later, cook the chicken breasts over direct heat for about 15 minutes total, turning over halfway through the cooking time, or once they are no longer stuck to the grate. cook until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165° F. discard the used marinade.
- during the last few minutes that the chicken is cooking, add the limes to the grill over indirect heat. cook for about 3 minutes per side, just to give the limes some grill marks.
- arrange the grilled chicken breasts and grilled limes on a platter and enjoy with friends.
both monin and torani make a few varieties of mint syrup. the one that i have is the monin green mint, which has a peppermint flavor. when i was looking for syrup years ago when i first tried this recipe, i was impatient and didn’t think the chicken would absorb the green food coloring (?!?). it does. it absolutely does. for the pictures above, i didn’t include the syrup.
so, i recommend you try one of the torani clear mint syrups (since the monin clear syrup is spearmint flavored, so i can’t vouch for that flavor). the preceding link is for amazon, or the torani website has a store locator, though it doesn’t indicate which flavors that store carries. check the coffee/tea section or ask the store manager where to look. ooooor you could just leave the syrup out; the chicken will still have lots of flavor.
adapted from grilled mojito chicken in best american recipes 2005 – 2006 cookbook, which cites bon appétit as their source (original 2004 recipe here).
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