Yucatan Chicken with Peach-Avocado Salsa

This award-winning recipe was the talk of the town in Hilton Head, S.C., where it won the 42nd Annual National Chicken Cooking Event in 1997. I wanted a fool-proof chicken recipe for dinner tonight, because I was definitely not in a chicken breast mood.

I hoped that Teresa Hanna Smith of Santa Rosa wouldn’t let me down. When she won the 1997 competition, she was already a five-year veteran of the program. I trust people who have more experience than me.

The judge chairman that year said she noticed some trends in the 1997 finals:

This year’s recipe trends were influenced by international flavors, according to Carol Haddox, judge chairman and editor of the Chicago Tribune’s “Good Eating” section. The recipes included flavors usually associated with Thai, Greek, Moroccan, Mexican, Indian, Tuscan and Italian dishes. The creative blends of ethnic ingredients resulted in some tasty poultry dishes.

Another tendency was toward recipes with “quick, fast preparation,” says Ms. Haddox. “People want dishes that are easy to cook.”

I’m not sure if her observations would still be considered trends at this point, more than ten years later, because I think many of those ideas still drive new recipes today.

Excerpted from the Chattanooga Free Press

Chattanooga Free Press. April 16, 1997, Gwen Swiger, E1.

YUCATAN CHICKEN WITH PEACH-AVOCADO SALSA
($25,000 winning
recipe by Teresa Hanna Smith)

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon garlic pepper seasoning
1 orange, juiced
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
Peach-Avocado Salsa (
recipe follows)
Lime slices

Place chicken in shallow glass dish; rub all sides with garlic pepper seasoning. Pour orange and lime juices over chicken; drizzle with olive oil. Crush oregano with fingers and sprinkle over chicken. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes, turning once. Remove chicken from marinade and place in large nonstick fry pan over medium heat. Saute, turning, about 12 minutes or until lightly browned and fork can be inserted in chicken with ease. Serve topped with Peach-Avocado salsa; garnish with lime slices.

Peach-Avocado Salsa
In medium bowl, mix together 1 fresh peach, peeled, pitted and diced; 1 small avocado, peeled, pitted and diced; 1 tomato, peeled seeded and diced; 1 1/2 cup diced jicama; 3 tablespoons chopped red onion and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. In small bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice and 2 teaspoons olive oil; pour into peach-avocado mixture, stirring gently.

Yucatan Chicken with Peach-Avocado Salsa
It. Was. Delicious. 

Our notes and modifications: 

• The chicken is ridiculously moist. Deliciously, ridiculously moist.
• Peaches are nowhere close to being in season in mid-January, so we debated for a while whether we should use canned peaches, nectarines, or mangoes instead. We went with the mangoes, and we were pleased with the results.
• If you’ve never peeled jicama before, here’s how.
• The chicken is buried beneath the salsa in the picture. The tortillas were fried soft corn tortillas. The beans were Top Foods store brand, and the rice was Rice-A-Roni Spanish Rice. The meal was delicious overall, but I could have done without the rice.
• If you would like to enter the National Chicken Cooking Contest, you have until August 31 to submit your application.

Finally, we chose to accompany our meal with Rising Moon, the spring ale from Blue Moon. Toby and I are both familiar with Harvest Moon, Honey Moon, and Full Moon (Blue Moon’s other tasty seasonal ales), but we’d never heard of Rising Moon. Regardless, it’s tasty. Not as delicious as Harvest Moon, but nice nonetheless.

Coors Brewing Company didn’t say whether Rising Moon was a new release, and yet we couldn’t find any images of it online, which indicates to me that it’s probably new-ish. Coors’ fact sheet (link downloads a PDF) doesn’t even have an image of it. Google Images doesn’t have one either, so here’s one I took:

Rising Moon
Rising Moon, Blue Moon’s spring ale 

Because this is a recipe introduced to the world through a food competition, I figured I should mention that I just ordered an interesting-sounding book called Cook-Off: Recipe Fever in America. I’ll let you know how it is once it arrives.

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Published in: on January 13, 2008 at 8:48 pm  Comments (3)  
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