The Rumbly Tumbly Zesty Cuban Chicken

Zesty Cuban Chicken

Flashback to the late 80’s. I remember sitting in my booster seat in my my mom’s bright yellow sportscar. She’d race my brother and I around town, windows down, her permed hair blowing in the wind. She always sang aloud with red painted lips to whatever music she was hooked on at the time, and my brother and I would sing along with tiny voices as best we could. One of the songs that my mom would play on repeat was Gloria Estefan’s, “Conga.” The song is fast, lively, and colorful, like something you’d hear in a Cuban dance club in Miami. Funny these are the words I’d use to describe it because as it turns out, Gloria Estefan is Cuban and the song is actually by Miami Sound Machine with Gloria Estefan.

The whole point of this story is that I’ve been dancing around the house with “Conga” (and memories racing around in a yellow sportscar singing with my mom) stuck in my head since making Zesty Cuban Chicken.  This isn’t just another run-of-the-mill chicken dish. Like the song, Zesty Cuban Chicken is lively and energetic with every bite. The slowly cooked chicken falls off the bone, and the marinade is infused with vibrant, zesty citrus.  Serve the chicken with sauce poured over plain white rice, and I’m sure you’ll have your family dancing Cuban-style to the stovetop for seconds, and even thirds.

The Rumbly Tumbly Zesty Cuban Chicken


  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • ½ c. orange juice
  • ½ c. lime juice
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced
  • ½ c. parsley, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. dried, ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • coconut oil (or preferred alternative) for cooking

Combine all the ingredients and marinate for at least 24 hours. When it is time to make dinner, heat a cast iron pan or large, heavy skillet over high heat. Add enough coconut oil to coat the bottom of the pan and heat until nearly smoking. Reserving the marinade, remove the chicken from your marinade container, gently shaking off excess. Place each piece of chicken skin-side down into the hot ban. Cook for about 5 minutes until the skin is nicely browned and crisped. Flip the chicken thighs over.  Pour the marinade into the pan and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to low (but not too low). Simmer with the lid on for 1½ hours. Serve and prepare to do the Conga.

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