The Sweet And Tart Ingredients That Make Key West Chicken Unique

A great recipe doesn't have to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes the recipe simply refines it or combines ingredients that play well together in a beautifully balanced dish that reflects the culinary influences of a specific place. Key West Chicken is one of those recipes. While there's not a single ingredient in this classic dish that's unusual, expensive, or difficult to procure, the finished product is just delicious, relying on that magical taste bud-awakening combination of sweet and tart flavors to elevate savory grilled chicken.

Key West Chicken calls for chicken breasts or tenderloins to be marinated in a combination of soy sauce, the zest and juice of both oranges and limes (bonus points if you can source some tiny Key limes), a little canola oil, some fresh chopped garlic, salt and pepper, and a little honey. After marinating, the chicken is grilled and can be served with a squeeze of fresh citrus juice to brighten the flavors on the plate. It's the combination of sweetness from honey, the umami element from soy sauce, and the lively, tart zing from citrus zest and juice that makes Key West Chicken so darn delicious.

Helpful tips for perfect Key West Chicken

While Key West Chicken isn't a difficult recipe to prepare, there are a few strategies that can help make your foray into Floribbean cuisine a success. First, when you're mixing up your marinade, it's a good idea to follow the ratio of three parts fat to one part acid and one part seasoning. While you can certainly adjust amounts to suit your taste, using these measurements as a starting point is a safe bet for your first trial of a recipe.

Second, there's no shortage of acid in Key West Chicken since you're using two different citrus juices, so make sure you don't marinate your chicken for too long, or those acids will start to break down the protein in the chicken and make it mushy. A marinating time of about an hour is ideal.

And finally, if you're looking to really kick up the flavor of your finished dish, reserve some of the marinade for after you put the chicken on the grill and reduce it by simmering it in a saucepan. The reduced sauce will bring those tangy, sweet ingredients to the forefront, making your Key West Chicken even more flavorful. To accompany Key West Chicken, try a side of cashew-coconut rice and some fresh steamed veggies. For dessert, what else would you choose but Key Lime pie?