Spring Break: Key Lime Chicken (Plus!)


The main course for my family’s tropical evening was actually something for which I’m not including a recipe because there really isn’t one. We ordered stone crab from the Islamorada Fish Company on the Florida Keys. This is a very expensive treat because the stone crab has to be shipped overnight (I haven’t yet had the heart to look at my credit-card bill) and does nothing to reduce one’s carbon footprint.


It does make life festive, however. The Fish Company catches one claw from many different crabs (returning the crabs themselves to the ocean to grow more claws!) and cooks them. When the claws arrive, the home cook’s responsibility is to refrigerate them until eating time, bang on the claws with the provided mallet to loosen the shells, and melt a lot of butter for dipping. 

Michael and David bang on crab claws on the newspaper-covered floor.
Michael and David bang on crab claws on the newspaper-covered floor.

Despite my love of stone crab I wanted to have a recipe for publication so the next evening I prepared a Cuban-inspired key-lime chicken. It’s not quite as devastatingly wonderful as the stone crab, but it’s a lot less expensive.


The key-lime juice gives the chicken a summery kick. And it’s hard to find an easier recipe. I adapted it from the web site of Island Grove, a company that makes a variety of key-lime products.


Of course, you may not have key lime juice in your pantry. I have found Nellie & Joe’s in a number of grocery stores. You have to buy a 2-cup bottle, but it’s useful for lots of things in addition to this chicken, including the key-lime pie recipe I’ll post shortly. A few drops make a lovely addition to a gin and tonic as well.


Don’t try to substitute regular lime juice. Key limes have a subtler, warmer flavor.




extra-virgin olive oil as needed
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, cut into rings
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup key-lime juice




In a large skillet with a cover heat the olive oil. Use it to brown the chicken breasts on both sides, salting and peppering as you cook them. Set aside. Sauté the onion and garlic until they begin to brown; then put them aside with the chicken.


Pour the key-lime juice and 1/4 cup water into the pan, and use them to scrape up (gently!) any goopy bits that are sticking to the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken and vegetables to the pan, cover it, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer the mixture for 20 minutes; then uncover and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated—about 10 minutes more. Serve over rice.


Serves 4.



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One Response to “Spring Break: Key Lime Chicken (Plus!)”

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