Cuban-style grilled mojo chicken bowls with grilled pineapple, fried plantains, tomato, black beans, and avocado.
There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you all for quite some time. Snapchat. That’s the question.
Tell me everything. Who do you follow? What kind of snaps are you interested in seeing? What could you go the rest of your life without seeing? What do you like to snap and share, yourself? Give me the whole low down diggity, because I am just so lost. I’ve had the Snap app on my phone for 5ish months (you can follow my silence at @TheRoastedRoot if you’d like), and I just don’t know what to do with it. I’m snap shy. I may stay snap shy. But one day, I may come out of my shell and be a savage snap diva, you never know…so if/when that happens, I just must know what you even care to see. I like hiking…want to see that? I have vicious road rage…interested? I love onions, but not on pizza, should I start a snap series? Tutorials in the kitchen? My boyfriend’s gorg face? TELL MEEEEEE!
No more yelling.
How’s your mojo these days? En fuego? I’d hate to brag, but my mojo game has been pretty strong these days. My mojo has been working its magic all up on the meats. In the form of marinade, my gutter brain-ed friend. We’re talking about sauce here, people.
Confused? Explanation pending.
For those of you who are new to Cuban mojo sauce (or marinade), it’s just the greatest thing. It’s a simple mixture of olive oil, orange juice (or lime juice), garlic, and cumin. That’s it! This combination of flavors is used as a sauce, marinade, and dip in Cuban cuisine, making for citrusy flavorful dishes.
I whipped up a simple mojo sauce and used it as marinade for my chicken tenders. You only need to devote ⅔ cup of the sauce to marinate the chicken, so you can use the rest of the sauce as dressing for drizzling over the bowls for added flavor.
How do you feel about fried plantains? They’re basically one of my favorite foods ever…and that’s saying a lot considering I’ve never been very tempted by fried food. They’re crispy on the outside and molten squishy-sweet on the inside. Nature’s paradise! In my ultimate food fantasy, we would serve all burgers here in the U.S. with a side of crispy sweet plantains rather than potato fries. Good plantains are difficult to come by here in the states, but when the stars align and the store has perfectly ripe ones, it is game ON.
All of the ingredients in this Cuban bowl meld together so well, it’s a beautiful display of culinary harmony. While the recipe has a lot of moving parts, it doesn’t take a great deal of time to prepare. You can prepare the rice and the mojo sauce up to a few days in advance to lighten the workload when you set out to make the rest of the recipe.
Cooking Tips and Options for Recipe Change-Ups:
- Prepare the mojo sauce and/or the rice up to 3 days ahead of time.
- Use any combination of orange, lemon, or lime juice for the mojo sauce. If you omit the orange juice and use straight lemon or lime juice, consider adding a touch more honey to compensate for sweetness.
- Use pork instead of chicken, or use boneless chicken breasts instead of the thinner chicken tenders.
- If desired, sprinkle the pineapple with a small amount of brown sugar and nutmeg for a sweeter grilled treat.
- Replace the pineapple with mango.
- Replace white rice with any rice of choice.
- Substitute kidney beans for the black beans.
Mojo game strong.
Grilled Cuban Mojo Chicken Bowls
Mojo Marinade and Dressing:
- 2/3 cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons white or yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger peeled and grated
- ½ teaspoon sea salt to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken tenders or breasts
- 1 ripe pineapple chopped into spears
- 1-½ cups uncooked white rice
- 1 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed, 14-
- ½ cup red onion finely chopped
- 2 vine ripened tomatoes sliced
- 1 ripe avocado peeled and sliced
Prepare the Chicken:
Add all of the ingredients for the mojo sauce/marinade to a blender and blend until well combined.
Place the raw chicken in a sealable container or bag and pour 2/3 cup of the mojo marinade over the chicken (or more if necessary), reserving the remaining sauce for serving the bowls. Seal and allow chicken to marinate 1 hour, up to 8 hours.
Fry the Plantains:
Heat the oil to medium high in an 8 to 10-inch skillet (I've found cast iron works great). Note: You want enough oil to allow the plantains to float while they're frying, but they don't need to be fully submerged.
Run a knife along the length of each plantain in order to peel them. Note: plantains are much more difficult to peel than bananas. I've found choosing ripe plantains and making a deep cut down the full length of the peel, cutting just as deep as the peel until you reach the flesh, is helpful in getting the peel off easily. Ripe plantains should be fairly easy to peel. The greener, less ripe plantains will be difficult and often the peel will be stuck to the flesh.
Cut the plantains into spears or rounds. The shape is just a matter of preference, as the end result will be the same.
Carefully place the plantain spears in the hot oil and allow them to cook about 2 to 3 minutes, until browned. Carefully flip using a slotted spoon, and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Continue cooking and flipping/rotating occasionally until plantains are soft and caramelized, about 4 to 6 minutes. Place on a plate lined with a paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt. Repeat for all of the plantain spears.
Make the Bowls:
Prepare the rice according to package instructions, and heat the beans in a saucepan. Keep warm on low until ready to use.
Preheat the grill to medium-high and use a wire brush to remove any food particles from your last barbecue. Brush with cooking oil.
Brush the pineapple with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Place pineapple spears on the preheated grill and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, until charred and soft. Transfer to a plate until ready to use.
Place the marinated chicken onto the hot grill and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until grill marks appear. Flip and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Continue cooking and flipping every 1 to 2 minutes until chicken is cooked through and has reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (chicken breasts that are 1 inch thick take about 10 to 12 minutes total to grill. Chicken tenders require about 6 to 8 minutes total).
Divide the rice between 4 bowls. Add desired amount of grilled pineapple spears, grilled chicken tenders, black beans, red onion, tomato slices, avocado, and fried plantains. Drizzle remaining mojo sauce over the bowls and serve.