Thinking about a margarita party which, of course, led me to think about food to go with margaritas. At a restaurant I used to work at, we made this margarita chicken using the frozen margarita straight out of the machine as the marinade. Spatchcocking is a method of preparing a chicken for cooking by removing the backbone from tail to neck so the chicken can be opened out flat. This gives a shorter cooking time and better access to the exterior of the bird for seasoning. Essentially, the bones of the ribcage are down and do all of the work in cooking.  I also like to use this method for Cornish game hens and most poultry. Choosing Spatchcock style gives the chicken a juicier texture, crispy skin, and speeds the cooking process, which is why I love this preparation. In cutting out the backbone, my preference is to use a good, sharp boning knife, but you can also use a sharp, clean pair of kitchen shears.

Homemade Jalapeno Liqueur

2 jalapenos, sliced in quarters lengthwise with seeds (If you want the drink a little hotter, use serrano or even habanero)

2 tablespoons peppercorns

2/3 cup tequila

2/3 cup vodka

½ cup water

1 ½  cups sugar

Zest of three limes

Place peppercorns, jalapenos, tequila and vodka in mason jar. Tightly seal lid on jar and store in a dark place away from sunlight. Shake daily for 3 weeks or so until the jalapenos resemble pickles. Strain to make syrup.

Bring sugar and water to boil in saucepan, add lime zest and stir until sugar melts. Remove from heat. Add ½ cup of infused jalapeno alcohol. Pour into clean mason jar and reserve to use.

Jalapeno Frozen Margaritas

½ ounce lemon juice

2 ounces lime juice

1 ounce orange juice

1/3 cup fresh chopped pineapple

2 ounces jalapeno liqueur (above)

2 ounces tequilla


I like to use a Frozen Margarita Maker Machine to make this recipe because the shaved ice makes a smoother drink. Put all ingredients in the blender part of the machine. Put the ice in the top. Shave the ice into the blender until full. Turn on the blender function just until blended. Pour margarita into glass and garnish with small slice of jalapeno or lime wedge. (I don’t like salt with my frozen margaritas, but if you do, salt the rim before pouring.)

Jalapeno Margarita Marinade

1 cup  frozen margarita

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon hatch green chile powder

1 teaspoon pureed garlic

½ cup olive oil

Pour frozen margarita into a Ziploc bag. Sprinkle in spices and olive oil. Zip the bag shut and massage to mix. 

Spatchcock Style Chicken

To prepare the chicken, remove any neck parts and gizzards. Rinse the whole chicken, inside and out, and dry with paper towel. Place chicken, breast-side down, on a cutting board. Use boning knife or kitchen shears to cut along the backbone of the chicken from tail to neck on both sides to remove the backbone. Press down on the wings to break the backbone and flatten the bird. Because the wingtips usually burn in cooking, cut these off and save with the other chicken parts. Freeze the wings, backbone, neck and gizzards for later use in making stock.

Place the whole chicken in the bag with the marinade and let it sit for 45 minutes. (Unless you plan to let it sit for longer than 45 minutes, you don’t need to refrigerate the chicken. Just keep it somewhere cool in the kitchen. Because of the citrus in the marinade, don’t let the chicken sit longer than 45 minutes. The citrus will break down the chicken too much. 

Jalapeno Margarita Chicken

3 tablespoons olive oil + 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves sliced garlic

½ red onion, sliced

1 yellow onion, sliced

½ green bell pepper, sliced

½ red bell pepper, sliced

1 teaspoon chili powder

Fresh ground black pepper


Steam the potatoes in water until just barely fork tender. Place potatoes in a bowl with one tablespoon olive oil and heavy pinch of salt. Stir to combine. Place the potatoes in the bottom of an oven-safe cast iron skillet. In a separate skillet, heat one tablespoon olive oil. Saute peppers and onions until translucent. Add chili powder and a dash of salt and pepper and stir. Layer the peppers and onions on top of the potatoes in the oven-safe skillet. Do not stir. Remove chicken from marinade and lay it on top of the skillet, meat side up. Generously salt and pepper the chicken. Pour some of the marinade over the chicken. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden and done throughout. 

To serve, make another pitcher of margaritas and eat chicken and drink margaritas until your tummy is full.

Written by Chef John O'Neil