People often ask where I get my recipe ideas. Sometimes I am inspired by delicious meals I see prepared by other bloggers. Bon Appetit has been a long-time favorite resource, and lately I am really enjoying Eating Well too. I’m often driven by what’s seasonal in terms of produce. And every so often I’m totally inspired by something I’ve eaten in a restaurant. I’ve been known to re-create some of my favorite restaurant meals at home, but if I’m not mistaken, this is the first time I’ve completely deconstructed a restaurant inspiration and put the flavors back together in another form.
Back in high school, I used to work at California Pizza Kitchen. Nowadays, I don’t venture much to chain restaurants, but this is never one I mind dining at. I find their selections fresh and creative, and not like the same-old-stuff you find on most chain restaurant menus. One of my favorite dinners to indulge in after a hectic night on the floor was their chicken tequila fettuccine: spinach pasta tossed with chicken, bell peppers, and onions in a lime-tequila-jalapeno cream sauce. At the time, I don’t think I realized (or cared) just how much of an indulgence this really was, but now that I pay so much attention to what I eat, I know it was quite the splurge.
The other night I was thinking about this meal and wondering if I could capture the flavor combination of the tequila, lime and jalapeno, minus all the heavy cream. I could have made a simple marinade for chicken, but, there are already about a zillion recipes out there for tequila-lime chicken. No need for one more. Why not a chicken tequila burger? Of course! Burgers are an easy venue for combining lots of flavors, and can actually be a bit simpler and less time-consuming than a marinade since you don’t have to prep them ahead of time and wait. (Although, you certainly can if you want! Burgers prepped ahead and frozen are a great meal to have on hand.)
These burgers truly hit the spot. I was a little nervous that the tequila flavor wouldn’t come through, but it certainly did, along with the lime and cilantro and dash of heat from the jalapeno. A quick pulsing together of the ingredients in the food processor and broiling of the burgers in the oven makes them a snap to make too! For the topping, I simply used a frozen mix of tri-colored bell peppers and onions. Normally I prefer fresh vegetables, but it would be just plain silly for me to buy one of each colored pepper since I’m cooking just for two. The frozen peppers are convenient and work perfectly well for this purpose. And in case you are wondering, those are roasted butternut squash fries on the side – a totally delicious and lower-carb/calorie alternative to sweet potato fries. This batch came out particularly well because I was careful to cut smaller and more uniform slices than in the past.
Chicken Tequila Burgers
2 chicken breasts, about 11oz total, cut into chunks
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
2-3 tsp minced jalapeno pepper
zest from 1/2 lime
dash of lite soy sauce
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/4 cup plain oatmeal (either instant old-fashioned are ok)
To serve: your favorite hamburger buns (I use Arnold Sandwich Thins) and a mix of sauteed bell peppers and onions
Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the burger ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times, until chicken is uniformly ground. Remove and divide into two portions; shape each into a ball, place on the baking sheet, and flatten with your palm. The mixture will seem rather loose and wet, but don’t worry; this is why we are cooking under the broiler rather than grilling these.
Broil the burgers for about 10-12 minutes total, flipping halfway through. Serve on buns with sauteed peppers and onions.
Nutritional Info (burgers only; does not include bread or bell pepper topping)
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 2.6 g
Cholesterol: 90.4 mg
Sodium: 346.2 mg
Total Carbs: 7.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 38.0 g
PS: For the butternut fries…
2. Meanwhile, peel and seed a butternut squash and slice into thin, french-fry-like strips.
3. Cook the butternut fries in the boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain, place on a dish towel, and pat dry.
4. Remove the baking sheet or skillet from the oven, and spray lightly nonstick spray. Dump the fries onto the pan, spray with nonstick spray, and sprinkle on your favorite seasoning (I like a southwestern blend.)
5. Roast for 20-30 minutes total, turning occasionally, until evenly browned.