Easy Grilled Mojo Chicken Recipe

Mojo seasoning is a spice blend that typically contains black pepper, cumin, garlic, lime, onion, and orange. While it seems to have originated in the Canary Islands, it's typically used in the Cuban dish pollo a la plancha, which is often referred to as to mojo chicken in the States. Developer Kate Shungu says of her take on the recipe, "This is an easy dinner that's big on flavor" — in fact, her take on it even omits the onion so that your meal prep can be tear-free. 

Shungu says her modus operandi is to prepare the marinade in the morning so that the chicken has a long time to soak it all up. Once evening comes, she says, "I just have to grill the chicken, make the rice, and dinner is done." Don't balk at the word "grill" if the weather or your living situation isn't conducive to cooking outdoors, though, since you can always cook the chicken in a griddle pan or a skillet on the stovetop for similarly tasty results.

Gather the ingredients to make easy grilled mojo chicken

Shungu uses boneless, skinless thighs for this recipe, marinating them in a mixture of orange juice, lime juice and zest, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, oregano, salt, and cumin. She then eats the chicken with a side of white rice and canned black beans that are stewed together with more olive oil and garlic.

Step 1: Combine the marinade ingredients

‌In a large bowl, whisk together the orange juice, the zest and juice of 1 lime, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, cilantro, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and cumin.

Step 2: Marinate the chicken

Add the chicken thighs and stir to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

Step 3: Heat up the grill

Preheat the grill to medium heat.

Step 4: Fry the garlic in oil

In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 cloves minced garlic over medium heat for 30 seconds.‌

Step 5: Put the rice and beans in the pan with some water

Add the rice, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, black beans (including the liquid from the can), and 1 ½ cups water.

Step 6: Boil the rice and beans

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Step 7: Simmer the bean mixture

Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.

Step 8: Grill the chicken

While the rice is cooking, grill the chicken thighs for 4–5 minutes per side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 F.

Step 9: Fluff the rice

When the rice is done, fluff it with a fork.

Step 10: Eat the chicken with the rice and beans

Serve the chicken thighs with the rice while both are still warm. Garnish with additional chopped cilantro.

How can I serve this easy grilled mojo chicken?

As this dish consists of a protein accompanied by a starchy side, it's pretty much a complete meal. Shungu does say, though, that "a leafy green salad would be [another] great side dish for this" and also notes that if you want more vegetables, you could grill these alongside the chicken. Asparagus would be her choice, but corn on the cob would also be great, or you could grill a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, and peppers and use them to make a grilled summer vegetable pasta salad.

Another idea would be to pay homage to mojo chicken's roots by serving it with other delicious Cuban foods. These could be side dishes, like cassava root or fried plantains, or they could be Cuban-style desserts, such as buñuelos (fried fritters), guava-stuffed pastelitos, or caramel-bottomed pudin de pan ("bread pudding"). 

What can I do with leftover easy grilled mojo chicken?

This recipe makes great leftovers, and Shungu assures us it can last in the fridge for up to 5 days. It can also be frozen if you need to store it longer as there aren't any ingredients that are likely to separate or otherwise be adversely affected. If you want to eat the chicken separately, you can take it straight from the refrigerator and chop or shred it. You can then use it in a salad, casserole, pasta dish, tacos, or anything else you might do with leftover chicken. 

For reheating the rice and beans, though (with or without the chicken), Shungu has a special tip to share. "I like using the ice cube method for reheating the rice," she says, explaining that this is done by putting the rice on a plate and plopping an ice cube down on top. Give it a minute or two in the microwave, during which time she tells us, "The ice cube will barely melt, and it will steam the rice gently so that it tastes freshly made."

Easy Grilled Mojo Chicken Recipe
No Ratings
Making deliciously spiced mojo chicken has never been easier than with this recipe, which uses the grill to deliver perfectly cooked chicken thighs.
Prep Time
2.17
hours
Cook Time
25
minutes
Servings
4
Servings
chicken with rice and beans on white plate
Total time: 2 hours, 35 minutes
Ingredients
  • ‌½ cup orange juice
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 3 + 1 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 + 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 + ½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, undrained
Directions
  1. ‌In a large bowl, whisk together the orange juice, the zest and juice of 1 lime, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, cilantro, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and cumin.
  2. Add the chicken thighs and stir to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium heat.
  4. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 cloves minced garlic over medium heat for 30 seconds.‌
  5. Add the rice, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, black beans (including the liquid from the can), and 1 ½ cups water.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.
  8. While the rice is cooking, grill the chicken thighs for 4–5 minutes per side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 F.
  9. When the rice is done, fluff it with a fork.
  10. Serve the chicken thighs with the rice while both are still warm. Garnish with additional chopped cilantro.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 531
Total Fat 11.2 g
Saturated Fat 2.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 159.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 62.1 g
Dietary Fiber 8.1 g
Total Sugars 3.2 g
Sodium 882.0 mg
Protein 43.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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