Margaret Button | Kitchen Comfort: Time to stock up on tequila

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Last week, while doing some research for an upcoming food page story, I ran across a story in Newsweek — and subsequently several other reputable publications — that gave me pause. I wish it was "fake news" (Lord, how I hate that term!), but alas it's true:

Due to an increasing demand for tequila, the agave plant — the main ingredient in tequila — is facing a mass shortage through at least 2021, causing a likely rise in prices for tequila shots and happy hour margaritas. Say what?!

Some 42 million of the blue-tinted, spikey-leaved plants are needed this year to supply 140 registered companies in Mexico making tequila — and only 17.7 million planted in 2011 (it takes seven to eight years for agave to reach maturity) are ready for harvest, according to Tequila Regulatory Council and the National Tequila Industry Chamber.

It gets worse ...

Many agave growers are uprooting plants early — which produces less tequila and further aggravates the shortage. And, the number of stolen agave plants in 2017 also rose threefold from 2016, with 15,000 plants reported stolen, according to the CRT.

This isn't going to be pretty ... I better start stocking up on tequila now! I am a margarita purist — no fancy fruit flavors for me, just the basic lime and please, no salt! I also use it to make margarita bars and this killer grilled chicken, a recipe that was given to me by a friend. I know it's winter, but if you're like me, you grill all year long!

Grilled tequila lime chicken with mango salsa

4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Tequila lime chicken:

1/4 cup tequila

2 tablespoons lime juice, plus zest

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, thinly sliced or flattened to 1/2-inch thick, (4 breasts)

Glaze:

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon lime juice

Mango salsa:

1 mango, cubed

1/2 cup tomatoes, diced

1 avocado, cubed

1/4 cup red onion, diced

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/2 jalape o, minced

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk all marinade ingredients together; tequila, 2 tablespoons lime juice, zest, garlic, cumin, paprika, salt, chili powder, black pepper and olive oil. Put chicken in a resealable plastic bag just large enough to fit the chicken. Pour marinade over the chicken, turning to coat. Remove any air from the bag and seal. Allow chicken to marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

For the glaze, combine in a small bowl 2 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon lime juice, set aside.

To make the mango salsa, in a medium sized bowl combine mango, tomato, avocado, red onion, lemon zest and juice, jalapeno and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat grill to medium high. Add a small amount of vegetable oil on a folded piece of paper towel, and then carefully grease the grill with the oil. Once the grill is nice and hot, add the marinated chicken breasts and discard the marinade. Cook chicken on each side until no longer pink (160-165 F), about 4 to 6 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the chicken. After flipping the first side, brush the glaze onto the chicken. Remove the chicken from the grill and transfer to a clean plate, cover to keep warm. Brush more glaze on hot chicken before serving.

To serve, top the glazed chicken with mango salsa.


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