This dish has maybe taken me longer to post than any single dish ever on Macheesmo. It’s not because I kept screwing it up either. It’s because I kept somehow losing the photos! The photos in this post are from the third take on this dish.
While I was mildly irritated at making the same dish three times just from a posting point of view, I was perfectly happy making this dish three times from an eating point of view, because man is it good.
Mojo chicken (pronounced Mo-ho) is a Cuban dish. You can actually mojo a bunch of stuff: shrimp, pork, etc. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen mojo veggies though. It’s usually meat. I went with chicken just out of simplicity here.
Now I’m not Cuban. I’ve never been to Cuba. I’ve eaten mojo-something like maybe half a dozen times. My point is that I make this my own way but it might not be traditional. Don’t be afraid to tell me off in the comments, or set me right, if you disagree with my mojo.
Yield: Serves 4.
4 skin on pieces of chicken (I usually do a mix between thighs and breasts).
2 Cups orange juice
2 limes, juiced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 Cup cilantro, chopped
1 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper
Basmati rice (I usually cook 2 cups at a time. Just cook according to package.)
1 lime, juice
2-3 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Quick Savory black beans:
1 can black beans
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 Teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper
1) Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Be sure to mince the garlic and ginger finely or you can also pulse them in a food processor. Once your marinade is combined, pour off 1/2 Cup of the marinade for later.
2) Add all the chicken pieces to the marinade and let sit for at least an hour but overnight would be just fine.
3) To make the beans, add the chopped onions to a medium saucepan with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook for a few minutes until the onions are soft, then add the garlic and paprika.
4) Add the drained canned beans and stir together for a few minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and keep warm until ready to serve.
5) For the cilantro rice, cook basmati rice as directed. When done, add lime juice and chopped cilantro. Stir together and keep warm until you're ready to serve.
6) You can cook the chicken either in a large heavy pan (cast iron works great) or on the grill. Either way, sear the chicken over high heat for a few minutes a side until brown. Then transfer to medium heat to finish cooking.
If you're using the grill, just move the chicken to a indirect heat spot or if you're using a skillet, transfer the chicken to a 350 degree oven.
7) Baste the chicken a few times with marinade. It's okay to use the same stuff that you used to marinate the chicken since you're going to be cooking it. My chicken took about 20 minutes to finish cooking completely. Just keep an eye on it as the marinade can burn.
8) Serve chicken on a bed of the rice and beans.
This looks like a lot of ingredients, but a lot of things are duplicates so don’t freak out on me here.
Marinating the Chicken
This is a citrus packed marinade which is great because the citrus helps tenderize the meat. These are the basics:
If you wanted to be really thorough here you could puree the ginger, garlic, and cilantro together which would make it a much smoother marinade, but I just diced everything really finely and then whisked together all the liquid ingredients.
Before you marinate the chicken, pour about 1/2 a cup of marinade and reserve it for later. It’s awesome to pour over the finished dish.
Then just place all your chicken pieces in the marinade. Skin on chicken is always the best in my opinion, but you can definitely use skinless if that’s your thing.
I let this sit for at least an hour, but overnight would be just fine.
Making the black beans
I actually make this dish on a weeknight normally and making a batch of dried beans isn’t always practical so this is my quick way to spice up canned black beans. Basically, just chop up the red onion and garlic.
In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil over medium-high heat and then toss in your onions. Cook the onions for a few minutes until they start to soften, then add the garlic and paprika. Drain your black beans and then stir the beans into the onions. Season a bit with salt and pepper and stir until the beans are warmed.
This prep takes just a few minutes but adds a ton of flavor to the canned beans.
This is kind of an optional deal also, but I really like it. Basically, I just cook basmati rice as directed and when it’s done I add a few Tablespoons of lime juice and a bunch of chopped cilantro.
This stuff is addictive.
Cooking the chicken
I actually think the best way to cook this chicken would be on a grill, but if you’ve read Macheesmo for awhile you’ll know that I’m very grill-less right now. So I used a cast iron skillet.
Regardless of how you cook it, the key is to cook it on high heat for awhile and then on lower heat for a bit to finish cooking the chicken all the way through. You have to be a bit careful because the marinade can burn if you put it over high heat for too long.
I cooked mine on high heat for a few minutes per side and then transferred it to a 350 degree oven to finish cooking. A few times while cooking I basted the chicken with a bit more marinade. It took about 20 minutes in the oven to finish cooking.
To serve this awesome stuff, I laid out a bed of rice and then piled on some beans and topped it with the chicken. Serve a little bit of the sauce on the side so you can pour it over the chicken and everything.
It’s a delicious dish. The chicken is really tender and the citrus goes great with the smokey beans.
This dish has some great summer flavors actually. All the citrus flavors are really refreshing. And leftovers are just as good.
So get your mojo on and try this out!