Tama's Mojo Chicken In Lemon Garlic Sauce

Reliably cook up very moist chicken breast, with a nice browned skin, with this lemony garlic chicken. This is my version of Cuban mojo sauce, as served by the iconic L.A. restaurant Versailles--when bitter oranges are not available.




Servings: 4

Cook Time: 1 1/2 hour plus time to marinate

Pair With: A buttery Chardonnay.

Source: Recipe and photo courtesy Tama Takahashi, Touring & Tasting Food Editor


Ingredients For the Mojo Sauce:
zest of 2 oranges
juice of 2 oranges (about 3/4 cup)
zest of 4 lemons
juice of 12 Meyer lemons (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon ground oregano
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1 1/2 heads of garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Ingredients For the Chicken:
4 chicken breasts, bone-in
1/2 cup butter, clarified
1/4 cup good white wine
1 tablespoon flour
a slice of onion, quartered, for garnish


Directions For the Mojo Sauce:
Peel the garlic. Set aside one third of the cloves; slice the rest. In a blender or food processor, puree the garlic, zest, juice, oregano, onion, salt and pepper until smooth and creamy. Set half aside. Use the other half to marinate the chicken in a large glass bowl for an hour, turning twice during this period so the chicken marinates evenly.

Directions For the  Chicken:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After marinating, remove the chicken to a tray or platter lined with paper towels and blot to dry. Pour the marinade from the bowl into a 9" x 13" glass baking dish.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan (cast iron pan works the best). When the butter bubbles, add the chicken, skin side down. Sear until golden brown, turning to sear the chicken on all sides. Turn off the heat under the frying pan so it can cool. Put the chicken into the baking dish, with skin facing up.

Carefully pour the reserved marinade into the frying pan (it will spatter if the pan is still very hot), stirring it into the butter. Whisk the flour into the wine and add to the sauce. Bring it to a low boil for 2-3 minutes, whisking occasionally to incorporate the flour as it thickens. Adjust the seasonings--the sauce should be VERY lemony.

Pour the sauce over the chicken, coating all the pieces. Tuck the reserved garlic cloves around the chicken breasts. Bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour until the chicken is cooked through (internal temperature of 165 degrees). During baking, baste the chicken frequently. When the chicken is done, plate it on a deep dish pouring the rest of the sauce over it. Garnish with the onion slices. Serve with black beans and rice.


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Chef's Notes:
  1. Chicken cooked with the bone in is always more flavorful than boneless. You can make this recipe with boneless breasts, but they will not be as divine. Bake for only 10-15 minutes.
  2. Use Meyer lemons, which are sweeter and more floral than ordinary lemons. If you must use regular lemons--Eureka or Lisbon--add a bit of sugar to the sauce. You can start with a tablespoon, then adjust to taste.
  3. Use clarified butter for a smooth sauce without foaming--look here on how to clarify butter. Use a good quality, buttery Chardonnay to cook with and to pair with the dish. Any off-flavors in the wine will show up in the sauce!