Hey, Tequila Chicken… Yo. I’m really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but here’s the thing. I see how hard you’ve worked, but we’re pals, and I have to tell you something because no one else will: you need to retire.
Remember Mezcal… Yeah, your smoky cousin from Oaxaca? That crazy one who’s always carrying a worm in a jar and keeps getting kicked out of Dunkin’ Donuts? Uh huh, that one. Don’t shoot the messenger, but he makes much better chicken.
I know, I KNOW–this has been your “thing” for a long time, but maybe you can do this gracefully. Become top dog at KFC or something. Okbyenow.
…That right there was the roughest conversation I’ve had in a while, you guys. I still smell tequila tears on my shoulder, but it was worth it, because I meant every word.
You’re probably not familiar with mezcal unless you are a Drinker with a capital D. I’d still recommend you give it a go–it’s smoky, strange, and completely delicious. If you hate it, you can make this dish for lunch and dinner for, oh, I dunno… Two weeks.
Two weeks, or at least while the watermelon is still as great as it is now. Did someone say something about pumpkin? Because I can’t hear anything over how fantastic and perfect melon is these days.
As a nation/culture, we are already down with watermelon and feta. So, naturally, no controversy here, just juicy cubes of fruit and crumbles of salty cheese.
Sprouts because damn it, they’re cute. And this is salad, after all.
Plus, a little chili powder to enhance the salad as a whole. You won’t taste it–and honestly, you don’t really want to here.
If you don’t have access to a grill, pat the marinated chicken with a paper towel until bone-dry, then roast in a hot (450ish Fahrenheit) oven, for 30 minutes or so. This technique is only useful if you get skin-on chicken, which I think you should. Let’s not ever deny ourselves crispy chicken skin. (Unless your doctor tells you to! Cue sad/responsible trombone.)
Whatever you do, though, don’t call Tequila Chicken right now. It’s a sensitive time. Send flowers or one of those sausage baskets, maybe?
- 1 lb chicken thighs (I'm an advocate for bone-in, skin-on)
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup mezcal
- Zest of one lime
- 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups cubed fresh seedless watermelon
- A handful of sprouts (I went with broccoli, but something spicier like radish might be nice too)
- 2 ounces crumbled cotija cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- A pinch or two chili powder
- Combine lime juice, mezcal, lime zest, jalapeno, salt, and pepper in a resealable plastic bag and add chicken. Marinate overnight, turning occasionally if you can.
- When chicken is marinated, preheat grill to medium-high heat (you should only be able to hold your hand an inch or so above the grate for a second). Grill the chicken thighs, skin side down, for 8-10 minutes until well marked. Turn the heat down to medium, cover, and cook for 20 more minutes or so, basting with the marinade occasionally.
- Meanwhile, to make the salad, just toss all the ingredients together 'cause we like it easy. And you're done! Plate and serve.