We set out to create a fresh, bright chicken salad inspired by the flavors of Mexico.
A simple tequila-lime mixture boosted the chicken’s flavor both in a quick marinade and, when cooked down with some orange juice, as a reduced sauce drizzled over the cooked chicken afterward. Grilled avocados gave the salad more smoky depth.
We cooked the chicken over the hotter part of the grill to get a good char, while cooking the more delicate avocados at the same time on the cooler side. To bring the salad together, we created a bright, tangy vinaigrette by combining lime juice and olive oil with cayenne and honey for well-rounded flavor.
Ripe but firm avocados are critical for successful grilling. If your avocados are overripe, skip seasoning and grilling and simply peel and slice the avocados before assembling the salad.
GRILLED TEQUILA CHICKEN WITH ORANGE, AVOCADO AND PEPITA SALAD
By America’s Test Kitchen
- 4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
- 2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- >> Marinade:
- 1/2 cup tequila
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (3 limes)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- >> Salad:
- 3 oranges, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon EACH salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 6 cups watercress, chopped
- 1/3 cup pepitas, toasted
- 1 shallot, sliced thin
Whisk marinade ingredients. Transfer 1/2 cup to small pot. Pour the rest into zipper-lock bag, add chicken; toss to coat. Press out air, seal bag, and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour, flipping occasionally.
Brush avocado halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill so that about 1/3 of area is hot and the other 2/3 is cooler.
Place chicken on hot side of grill. Cook (covered if using gas), turning as needed, until nicely charred, to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, 8 to 12 minutes.
Place avocados cut side down on cooler side of grill; cook until lightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer chicken and avocados to cutting board and tent with foil.
Make salad: Drain oranges in colander set over bowl, reserve juice. In second bowl, whisk oil, honey, cayenne, salt, pepper and lime juice. Add watercress, pepitas, shallots and oranges; toss. Place on platter.
Add drained juice to marinade in pot, simmer over medium- high; reduced to 1/4 cup, 3 to 5 minutes.
Peel avocado. Slice avocado and chicken; lay on salad; drizzle with marinade. Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 566 calories, 39 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 36 mg cholesterol, 364 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 18 g protein.