Grilled Lime Chicken with Black Bean Sauce
This recipe for grilled chicken, marinated in lime juice, and served with a cilantro infused black bean sauce is inspired by a recipe from my dear friend and site contributor Steve-Anna.
First posted in 2006, I’ve changed it over the years incorporating many of the ideas that commenters have given us after trying the recipe, plus a few ideas of my own.
Chicken cutlets are marinated in a lime juice cilantro marinade for a couple hours. They are grilled quickly on a hot grill and served with a simple black bean sauce made with canned black beans, onions, garlic, and oregano.
I’m garnishing the chicken with chopped red onions that have soaked in some water and seasoned rice vinegar for a quick pickling effect.
A note on the black beans. You only need a cup and a half of cooked black beans for the sauce in this recipe. In my book, this is not enough to warrant making a whole batch of beans from scratch, which is why we are using canned beans (I recommend Bush’s, S&W, or Goya).
But if you want to make beans from scratch, by all means do not let me deter you. Here’s an excellent method in our Black Bean Burrito Bowl recipe.
Updated recipe and photos, first published in 2006
If you don't have access to a grill, you can sauté the chicken breasts in a cast iron pan on medium high to high heat until lightly browned on both sides and just cooked through.
Grilled Chicken Ingredients:
- 6 Tbsp lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes)
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup+ (more to taste) chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thin cutlets
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
- Sliced avocados, sour cream, cilantro
Black Bean Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 1 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, including stems, loosely packed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, or more to taste
1 Marinate chicken breasts: Combine the lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, oregano, salt and pepper in a glass bowl and mix well. If the chicken breasts are not already thin cutlets, make them so by cutting them in half horizontally.
They should be no more than 3/4-inch thick at their thickest point. Trim the chicken breasts of excess fat, then add them to the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
2 Soak chopped red onion for garnish in rice wine vinegar and water: Place 1/2 cup chopped red onion in a small bowl and add a couple tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, and enough water to just cover the onions. Chill until dish is ready for garnish.
3 Sauté onions for black bean sauce: First, taste the liquid in the canned beans. If it tastes good, use it, if not, drain the can, and rinse the beans. (Depending on the brand of canned beans, the liquid might be good tasting or not.)
Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. When hot, add the chopped red onions and cook for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more.
4 Add beans, water, bay leaf, spices, then simmer: Add the beans to pot, including the can liquid if using (if not, replace with water). Fill up the empty can with water and add that to the pot as well (about 1 3/4 cups of water).
Add the bay leaf, chopped cilantro, oregano, black pepper, and salt. Increase the heat to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a low simmer.
Simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes.
5 Purée sauce: Remove the bay leaf. Pulse in a blender (or use an immersion blender) until somewhat smooth. (Remember to only fill a blender a third of the way if you are blending hot liquids, and hold the top down while you blend.)
6 Grill chicken breasts: Prepare your grill for medium-high, direct heat. Place the chicken breasts on the grill, and grill until they are just cooked through (approximately 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side). Remove to platter when grilled.
Serve the grilled chicken with the black bean sauce. Sprinkle with the strained red onions, and garnish with sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes or fresh cilantro.