Tuesday, July 13, 2010
"E" is for Eating Mojo Chicken with Wine
My husband and I decided to take a four-day holiday in Tampa, Florida. While dining out I noticed that many dishes had Cuban influences.
Part of the Caribbean hodgepodge of foods, Cuban cuisine combines French, Spanish, African, Arabic, Chinese and Portuguese cooking techniques. This cuisine also uses fresh, local foods, such as meats and legumes, starchy fruits and vegetables and citrus – lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit. Cuban food is similar in style to Creole cuisine, incorporating well seasoned, but not overly spicy dishes. The foods are sautéed or slow-cooked over a low flame, and there is little to no emphasis on deep-fried foods or those with cream-based sauces. For flavor, a few basic spices are used, such as garlic, cumin, oregano and bay laurel leaves. Meats and poultry are mostly marinated in citrus juices, such as with lime, orange or grapefruit juice, then slow roasted over low heat, as well.
During my restaurant tour, I noticed a dish called Cuban mojo chicken on many menus. The chicken is marinated in citrus juice and grilled over low heat on a barbecue. I decided to order it. When the dish arrived at our table I saw that the marinade had acted as a glaze, adding wonderful Caribbean flavor to the skin, while sealing in moisture and allowing the flesh to be tender and deliciously juicy.
The mild heat and heavy spiciness of mojo chicken demanded a glass of Johannisburg Riesling (off-dry). With its low acidity and hint of sweetness offsetting the mild heat and heavy spiciness, this wine and Cuban food combination really worked. I asked the chef for the recipe and was not surprised to hear that the marinade included lime and orange juice and corn syrup, thus explaining why this dish harmonized so well with the slight sweetness in the wine. The wine’s tropical flavours also complemented the heavy spiciness of the garlic and cumin.
This is a great way to enjoy chicken this summer on the barbecue. You can marry mojo chicken with a variety of off-dry white wines, such as an Ontario off-dry vidal, gewürztraminer or riesling.
Here’s one recipe. This citrus marinade would also complement seafood, such as shrimp and scallops and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.
Cuban Mojo Chicken
Juice from one lime
Quarter cup orange juice
Two tablespoons water
One tablespoon light corn syrup
One eighth teaspoon chili paste
One teaspoon vegetable oil
Quarter teaspoon cumin powder
One eighth teaspoon salt
One eighth teaspoon pepper
Three cloves garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 4
Squeeze limejuice into a food processor or blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Place chicken in large glass dish. Pour marinade over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning turn chicken occasionally in marinade. Heat grill. Remove chicken from marinade. Reserve marinade. Place chicken on grill over low heat and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, basting occasionally with reserved marinade. Chicken is done when meat inside is white. Discard remaining marinade.