When you think of summer, you might think of beaches, vacations, and sunsets. But for me, summer screams cookouts and grilled foods, especially my favorite dish – grilled chicken with cilantro-crema. The tangy and creamy flavors combined with perfectly grilled chicken make it an unforgettable meal. Often, I draw inspiration from the Bahama Breeze cilantro crema recipe. But today, I’m sharing my twist on this dish.
When to Serve Grilled Chicken with Cilantro-Crema
Whether it’s weeknights, weekend cookouts, or a main course for a summer gathering, this dish fits all occasions. Its flavorful pairing of the juicy grilled chicken breast with the creamy and tangy cilantro crema makes it a hit. The hint of lime juice gives it that perfect zesty touch, making it apt for summer.
Choosing Your Equipment
The choice of grill plays a crucial role in how your chicken turns out. A gas grill heats up quickly, offering consistent temperatures. If you’re a fan of the smoky flavor, you might lean towards a charcoal grill. But, remember, managing a charcoal grill’s temperature might require some expertise. For those without outdoor space, fret not! A grill pan works just fine.
Before we dive into the recipe, here are some tools you’ll need:
- Cutting Board and Kitchen Knife: To prepare your ingredients.
- Bowls: For marinating and preparing the cilantro-crema.
- Instant Read Thermometer: Ensuring the chicken’s internal temperature reaches a safe point is vital.
- Tongs: For handling the chicken on the grill.
Getting Started with the Marinade
Marinating chicken in sour cream might sound unusual. But trust me, chicken marinated in sour cream is a game-changer. The sour cream, or even Mexican crema if you fancy, tenderizes the chicken, while ingredients like lime juice and fresh cilantro infuse flavors. But the million-dollar question is, “How long to marinate chicken in sour cream?” Ideally, it’s best to marinate for at least 4 hours. However, if you’re short on time, 2 hours will still give you a flavorful result.
Recipe: Grilled Chicken with Cilantro-Crema
- Chicken breasts: 4 pieces
- Sour Cream or Mexican crema: 1 cup
- Fresh cilantro, chopped: ½ cup
- Lime juice: 3 tbsp
- Lime zest: from 2 limes
- Olive oil: 2 tbsp
- Garlic, minced: 2 cloves
- Salt: 1 tsp
For the Cilantro-Crema:
- Sour cream or Mexican crema: 1 cup
- Fresh cilantro, finely chopped: ½ cup
- Lime juice: 2 tbsp
- Mayonnaise: 2 tbsp
- Salt: to taste
1. Marinating the Chicken:
- Cutting Board and Kitchen Knife: Begin by finely chopping the fresh cilantro and mincing the garlic on a cutting board using a sharp kitchen knife.
- Bowls: In a large mixing bowl, combine sour cream, freshly chopped cilantro, lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, minced garlic, and salt. Mix well using a spatula or a spoon until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Place the chicken breasts in this marinade, making sure each piece is well-coated with the mixture. Press the chicken down into the mixture to ensure maximum coverage.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for 4 hours.
2. Preparing the Grill:
- If you’re using a gas grill, ensure the propane tank is adequately filled. Turn on the grill and set it to medium-high heat, allowing it to preheat for about 10 minutes. If you’re using a charcoal grill, fill it with charcoal, light them, and allow the coals to become ashy and white (which typically takes about 20 minutes). For those opting for a grill pan, place it over medium-high heat on your stove and let it get hot.
3. Grilling the Chicken:
- Once your grill or grill pan is hot, use tongs to carefully place the marinated chicken breasts onto the grilling surface. It helps to give a gentle shake to each chicken piece before placing it on the grill to remove any excess marinade.
- Allow each side of the chicken breast to cook for about 7-10 minutes without disturbing it. Use the tongs to flip the chicken. You're looking for a nice charred surface with distinct grill marks.
- Instant Read Thermometer: After about 14-20 minutes (depending on thickness), check the chicken's internal temperature by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. It should read 165°F for safe consumption.
4. Preparing the Cilantro-Crema:
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine the ingredients listed under 'Cilantro-Crema'. Using a whisk or a spoon, stir until smooth. Taste and adjust salt or lime juice as per preference.
- Once grilled to perfection, use the tongs to transfer the chicken breasts to a serving plate. Drizzle the prepared cilantro-crema generously over the chicken or serve it on the side for dipping.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 380Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 650mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 35g
Serving Suggestions and Side Dishes
Now that we have our star dish, grilled chicken with cilantro-crema, let’s talk about complementing this masterpiece. The beauty of this dish is its versatility. The tangy and creamy cilantro crema from the Bahama Breeze-inspired recipe pairs well with several side dishes:
- Mexican Rice: A simple rice dish sautéed with tomatoes, garlic, and onions. It adds a hearty touch to your meal.
- Grilled Vegetables: Think bell peppers, zucchinis, and asparagus, lightly brushed with olive oil and grilled alongside your chicken. Their smokiness mirrors that of the chicken.
- Black Bean Salad: A mix of black beans, corn, tomatoes, and avocados. Drizzle some lime juice and sprinkle some salt, and you’ve got a refreshing side.
- Tortilla Chips and Salsa: For those who love a little crunch with their meals, this is a perfect pairing.
Cooking Tips and Mistakes to Avoid
- Marination: Marinate chicken in sour cream to ensure tenderness and flavor infusion. While a 2-hour marination will give you a decent taste, aim for 4 hours to get the maximum flavor out of the marinade.
- Check the Internal Temperature: Always ensure the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165°F. Undercooked chicken can pose health risks.
- Avoid Overcrowding the Grill: Give each chicken breast its space. Overcrowding can lead to uneven cooking.
- Don’t Flip Too Often: Let the chicken sit and develop a nice char before flipping. Constant flipping can lead to tearing and loss of those beautiful grill marks.
- Cilantro-Crema Consistency: While preparing the cilantro crema, if you find it too thick, add a splash of lime juice or a teaspoon of olive oil to thin it out.
Grilled chicken with cilantro-crema is more than just a dish. It’s a flavorful pairing that’s bound to become a favorite in your household. Whether you’re using a gas grill, charcoal grill, or a simple grill pan, the results are sure to be delightful. Drawing inspiration from the Bahama Breeze cilantro crema recipe, this dish captures the essence of summer cookouts. With every bite, you get juicy chicken breasts marinated to perfection, complemented by the tangy and creamy cilantro crema.
So, the next time you’re thinking of what to make for a summer evening, look no further. This dish doesn’t just promise flavor; it promises memories. And remember, it’s not just about the end result, but also the joy of cooking. Enjoy every moment, from marinating the chicken to watching it sizzle on the grill, and finally, relishing the fruits of your labor. Happy grilling!
FAQs about Grilled Chicken with Cilantro-Crema
What is cilantro crema made of?
Cilantro crema is a delightful blend of fresh cilantro, sour cream (or Mexican crema), lime juice, garlic, and seasonings. Its creamy and tangy profile complements many dishes, especially grilled foods.
How long does it take to grill chicken breasts?
The exact time varies based on thickness and heat, but typically chicken breasts take about 14-20 minutes total on the grill, with about 7-10 minutes on each side.
How long does it take to cook chicken on the grill?
For chicken breasts, the total cooking time is approximately 14-20 minutes. However, thighs, legs, or wings may have different cooking times due to their size and bone content.
How long to grill chicken breasts on a gas grill?
On a preheated gas grill set to medium-high heat, chicken breasts usually require 7-10 minutes per side, totaling 14-20 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
Can I use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for the cilantro crema?
Yes, Greek yogurt is a great alternative to sour cream, giving the cilantro crema a tangy flavor while keeping it creamy. Just ensure it’s plain, unflavored yogurt.
Is there an alternative to a gas grill for this recipe?
Absolutely! You can use a charcoal grill, a stovetop grill pan, or even an oven’s broiler setting. Each method will offer a slightly different flavor profile.
How do I store leftover cilantro crema?
Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should remain fresh for up to 3-4 days. Give it a good stir before using it again.
What should the internal temperature of the grilled chicken be?
Chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165°F to be safe for consumption. Using an instant-read thermometer can help you ensure it’s cooked through.
Why marinate the chicken in sour cream?
Marinating chicken in sour cream helps tenderize the meat, making it juicier while infusing it with flavors. The acidic components in the sour cream break down protein bonds, ensuring a tender bite.
Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?
Yes, chicken thighs can be substituted. However, their cooking time might vary, so always check for the recommended internal temperature before serving.
I’m Calvin Lamb, an LA-based culinary enthusiast with a decade’s experience in five-star kitchens. My innovative dishes, inspired by seasonal flavors and sustainable practices, blend classic and modern cuisine. Besides crafting unique culinary experiences, I relish exploring new eateries and devising fresh recipes.