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Tequila and Lime Chicken

This lip-smacking recipe from Nigella Lawson's cookbook Simply Nigella is packed with flavour and perfect for a laid-back lunch.

From the book

Nigella Lawson


Someone once said to me on Twitter that Mother Hens must use me as a warning to frighten their chicks when they were misbehaving. There's no denying it, I do cook an awful lot of chicken. But you cannot have too many chicken recipes in my book and this is, after all, my book. 

This is relatively new to my repertoire but firmly established for all that. True, the tequila doesn't exactly convey flavour, or not so that you could name it, but it sure brings fire – augmented by the chilli flakes – and tenderizes the chicken beautifully. 

If you want to bulk it out, then look no futher than the Cuban Black Beans (p. 214 of Simply Nigella) or simply chop up some sweet potatoes and roast them in cold-pressed coconut oil and cumin in the oven at the same time. But when I want something lighter, a simple green salad does me. At all times, some avocado mashed with salt then sprinkled with fresh coriander and a few more chilli flakes, to be dolloped on the plate, is highly desirable. 

It was while cooking this, during an extended (work) stay at the Chateau Marmont in LA, that I set off the fire alarm. Somehow that feels entirely appropriate. 

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1 preferably organic chicken (approx. 1.4 kg), jointed into 8 pieces
75ml tequila blanco
zest and juice of 2 limes (preferably unwaxed)
½ tsp dried chilli flakes (plus more to sprinkle on at the end)
2 tsp sea salt flakes
2 x 15ml tbsp regular olive oil
To Serve:
chopped fresh coriander
limes (cut into wedges)


1. First, put the jointed chicken pieces into a freezer bag.

2. Mix together the tequila, zest and juice of the limes, the chilli flakes, salt and olive oil, and then tip this into the freezer bag with the chicken. Seal or tie tightly (letting out the air first) and place it (on a tray or in a dish) in the fridge to marinate for 6 hours or overnight, or up to 2 days, or leave outside the fridge, but in a cool place, for 40 minutes if you’re short of time.

3. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7/425ºF. If the chicken is in the fridge, take it out and remove the chicken pieces from the bag, reserving the marinade. Sit the chicken pieces on a smallish, shallow baking tray for about 30 minutes to allow them to come to room temperature. It’s important that the chicken pieces sit on the tray without a lot of room to spare, or else the marinade will immediately evaporate in the hot oven. When you are ready to put it into the oven, pour half of the marinade over the chicken pieces and transfer to the hot oven for 25 minutes.

4. Take the chicken out of the oven, pour the other half of the reserved marinade over it, then put the chicken back in for another 25–30 minutes. Check it is cooked through before removing from the oven.

5. Put the chicken pieces on a serving plate. Then add a little boiling water to the pan to help get every last bit of flavour-sticky juice out, and pour it over the chicken on its plate. Scatter with chopped coriander and – if you like it hot – some more dried chilli flakes, and serve with some lime wedges alongside.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: The chicken can be marinated up to 2 days ahead.

STORE NOTE: Store in fridge until needed. Transfer leftover cooked chicken to a container, then cool, cover and refrigerate within 2 hours. Will keep in fridge for up to 3 days.

FREEZE NOTE: The chicken can be frozen in its marinade – as long as the meat has not been previously frozen – for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in fridge before using. Leftover cooked and cooled chicken can also be frozen, in airtight containers or resealable bags, for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in fridge before using.

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From the book: Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food

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