Tuesday, April 26, 2011

90 Miles Away Chicken with Conch Republic Black Beans

90 Miles Away Chicken
w/ Conch Republic Black Beans and Yellow Rice

The Southernmost Point of the US is in sunny and colorful Key West, Florida.  It is 90 miles away from the Island country of Cuba. 

I can still recall the scene from the 1986 movie, "Running Scared" starring Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines.  There was a scene at Mallory Square -- at sundown. It's like a sideshow and a party combined each night; everyone watches the sun set, applauds, and quickly moves on to another party.

That is the way it really is.  Key West is one of my favorite places to visit.  If you've never read the story about the "Conch Republic," the day Key West tried to declare independence from the US, do so now.   
It will bring a smile to your face:

You also know that I have a love for Cuban food after living in Tampa for over 15 years!  Interesting fact; In Tampa, the Cuban-Americans serve black beans over yellow rice.  In Miami, it is over white rice.   I think it was the influence of the famous Columbia™ Restaurant, which began in Tampa but is now all over the state.  There might be another reason.  If you know of another reason, please e-mail me the information and I will give you credit for it on another blog post.

I must digress a moment to promote this product (not a paid endorsement).  Without it, there would be no 90 Miles Away Chicken. 

Long story short, I was Mama Pirri's "date" for the 80th birthday party of her former boss, Ralph Loglisci.  He was the former owner of Jr’s in Stamford, CT, along with his brother, Johnny in the 70’s and 80’s.  JR's was THE hot spot.  Celebrities galore once visited, and as Ralph will tell you, Mama Pirri “ran the place.”  

Ralph lives down here now, so we were lucky to be able to join in the celebration.

Mama Pirri and Ralph

On the way home, we decided to take the Florida Turnpike.  We stopped at a rest stop.  This time of year, the rest areas promote Florida oranges.  It was this “Key Lime Margarita” sauce that caught my eye.  I make most of my own marinades and dressings, but I thought this was a great idea for a busy night.  I used about 6 oz to marinate 6 meaty bone-in, skin on chicken thighs.  It is a citrus grilling sauce with a bit of Cilantro.  I added a secret weapon…
...a double shot of rum!

This chicken was so juicy.  Feel free to substitute a combination of thighs and legs.  Whatever you decide to do, be sure to put on a little Jimmy Buffet music, crank up the blender, and get out the Tequila, the lime and the salt!  It's time to party when you make this meal!

You can purchase the sauce by going to: http://www.braswells.com/

90 Miles Away Chicken hot off the grill!

For the Marinade:

8 oz. Braswell Key Lime Margarita Sauce, 2 oz. reserved*
1 double shot of Light Rum

6 bone in, skin on Chicken Thighs

Other:  Oil and cooking spray for grill and tin foil pan;  Fresh Cilantro and Oregano for garnish (optional); Lime slices.

*Not a paid endorsement.

Whisk sauce and rum together.   Add chicken to a non-metallic container. Pour sauce over chicken.  Toss well.  Cover and refrigerate for 8 – 24 hours, turning once or twice.

Oil grill grates and spray with cooking spray.  Preheat grill to 400°.

Place marinated chicken in tin foil pan spayed with cooking spray, skin side up.  Grill over medium heat – in tin foil pan, for fifteen minutes.  Close lid of grill to keep in the heat, but monitor for flare ups.

Remove chicken from pan and place chicken skin side down.  Grill chicken for five minutes. 

Remove chicken from grill, back to pan, skin side up.  Continue cooking chicken for approximately ten (10 minutes).  Baste with remaining grilling sauce.  I pull the chicken when the internal temperature is about 17o° for this dish.  Juices should run clear.

Let chicken rest under tin foil tent for ten minutes before serving.  Grills vary, so adjust cooking time accordingly.

Garnish with fresh herbs and lime slices.  A squirt of fresh lime at the end makes this dish just pop!

Conch Republic Black Beans

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 small white Onion, chopped
½ large green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 full clove Elephant Garlic*, mined
1 double shot of Light Rum
2 - 15 oz. cans Black Beans, not drained
1 – 15 oz. can Diced Tomato with Mild Green Chili
2 – packets Sazon Tropical Seasoning (Orange Pack)
Fresh Cilantro or Culantro, for garnish.

Add oil to pan.  Preheat pan.  Add onion, bell pepper and garlic.  Sauté three-to-five minutes, until softened.

Add rum.  Deglaze pan. 

Add beans, tomato and seasoning.  Mix.  Bring to boil, and reduce to simmer.  Cook for two hours over low heat, covered, stirring occasionally.  Top with fresh Cilantro or Culantro.

Serve over cooked, packaged yellow rice mix.

Note:  Substitute light beer for water for really flavorful yellow rice.

PS- I like to serve this with frozen Goya Plantains.

Key West photographs by Dan LaBrie.
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