Mojo Chicken with Avocado Mango Salsa
“Mojo”, roughly translated, means magic charm. The mojo marinade, in this case, most definitely is a magic charm. Not to go all sciencey on you, but let’s think back for a minute to ceviche. A ceviche is basically seafood which has been cured in a citrus bath. This denatures the proteins of the fish or seafood, effectively ‘cooking’ the fish through citrus (but with no heat added). By applying that same principle to chicken, but on a slightly more time-depressed scale, the marinade both adds flavour to the meat as well sealing in the juices by The Power of Acid. The end result is a juicy, succulent, flavorful chicken breast with a Cuban flair.
I’ve been dying for Mojo chicken ever since I made Mojo Marmalade Sauce last weekend. At it’s most basic, mojo marinade is made from a combination of citrus (oranges and limes), spices (generally cumin), garlic, and heat (jalapeno peppers are traditional). It is also common to see a saccharine element like cane or brown sugar and when using it as a marinade oil is often added as well.
- 2/3 cup Mojo Marmalade Sauce*
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Finely chop the garlic cloves.
In a medium bowl combine the Mojo Marmalade Sauce, garlic, spices, and salt. Don’t mind the chip in the bowl…I never said I was perfect, and neither is my cooking accoutrement.
That’s it! The marinade is ready to go.
Trim any fat or undesirables from the chicken breasts and pour the marinade over them. This can be done in the baking container that they’ll eventually go into, or you can pop them into a freezer bag and tuck it away in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. Let the chicken marinade for 2 – 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. If you went the freezer bag route like I did, pour the contents into an oven safe casserole dish where the chicken is not feeling crowded. Pour all of the marinade in there as well. Do you see how the chicken is slightly paler in color now? That’s the marinade’s mojo in action, sealing in all of those juices.
I know that it’s a bit unorthodox to pour the marinade in and let the chicken cook in this, but there is method to my madness. Cooking at higher heat means that some of the liquids will vaporize and turn the oven into a bit of a mini steamer. Closer to the bottom, the juices will bubble up and work to try and poach the chicken at the same time. The net result is, of course, an incredibly moist breast.
Pop it into the preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes or until fully cooked. Flip the chicken breasts over half way through so that they cook evenly. After they’ve cooked take them out of the oven and tent the meat loosely with aluminum foil for 5 – 10 minutes so that the juices can recirculate. Hey, you do it with steak, right? It just makes sense – especially for chicken which has a tendency to dry out faster than you can call fowl on a faulty recipe.
When they’re ready and rested, spoon the Avocado Mango Salsa on top or have it on the side as a condiment for people to help themselves. This dish is so bright and flavorful, it’s really one of my favorites.