September 25, 2003


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Fall’s finally here. Fortunately, the weather’s still nice enough to eat and drink outdoors. With that in mind, grilling is definitely a great choice when deciding what to cook. Contrary to what you may have heard, a good beer is not the only beverage that goes well with a sizzling piece of meat fresh off the grill. A big, fat, juicy red wine such as the great American Zinfandel (not White Zinfandel — the funky pink wine) pairs ideally with grilled foods. A bright, clean, fruit-laden white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, also pairs very well with grilled foods.

The following recipe is a bit of a different take on barbecuing. Growing up in South Florida opened my eyes up to a fantastic experience: Cuban cuisine. Cuban barbecue consists of two things: the meat and the marinade / sauce. In Cuba, the meat is generally pork, chicken, or beef. The marinade / sauce is almost always Mojo. The best Mojo is made of garlic, cilantro, citrus, and olive oil, though there are many variations. The recipe I am providing you with is a very traditional and simple one. It can be adapted to meet the limitations of the usual undergraduate residence: you don’t need a grill (though it is preferred); an oven will suffice. The flavors are fresh, and not a lot of time is needed to put together this authentic Cuban Barbecue dish. And don’t forget about the wines. Though beer consumption exceeds wine consumption in Cuba, I don’t believe any Cubans would have much of a problem with you drinking a bottle of wine with their cuisine, just as long as you’re in good spirits. Salud!

Pollo con Mojo (Serves 4)


8 Pieces chicken parts (breasts, thighs and/or legs)

1 Grapefruit

1 Lemon

1 Lime

1 Orange

1/2 Bunch of cilantro

1/2 Cup of olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

To prepare:

1. Preheat grill (or oven) to 350 degrees.

2. Juice the citrus into a mixing bowl.

3. Chop the cilantro and add to the citrus juice.

4. Add the salt and pepper.

5. Whisk in the olive oil.

6. Pour half the marinade over the chicken and marinate for an hour. Reserve the other half.

7. Grill (or roast on a baking sheet) the chicken for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through.

8. Toss the chicken with the remaining marinade and serve with a green salad and grilled bread. To grill bread properly, rub the bread with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and grill each side for about one minute.

Suggested wine pairings:

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2002 — $12

This wine is an excellent representation of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is bursting with tropical fruit and lime flavors with a smooth balanced finish of passion fruit, guava and citrus.

Ravenswood Zinfandel, Napa Valley, California 2000 — $15

A wine that shows great justice to the Zinfandel varietal, with a spicy nose of raspberry, redcurrant, blackberry, and cocoa. The finish is juicy and lively in the mouth, with strong fruit and mild tannins.

Remember, the Ithaca Farmers Market is still open and you can acquire just about all of the ingredients there (even the chicken) in the freshest state you’re likely to find. Looking for the wines? Check out Sparrow’s Fine Wines.

Archived article by Stephen Asprinio