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Aztec Chicken with Sweet Potato-Corn Mash

The dish draws inspiration from the culinary practices of the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican civilizations, who had a diet rich in maize (corn), sweet potatoes, beans, squash, and various spices. The Aztecs were known for their sophisticated agricultural techniques and their ability to create complex flavors using available ingredients.

Chicken: While not native to the Americas before the arrival of Europeans, chicken has become a staple in modern Mexican cuisine, easily blending with traditional spices and cooking methods.

Sweet Potatoes and Corn: Both are native to the Americas and were central to the diets of ancient Mesoamerican cultures. Corn, in particular, was a sacred crop for the Aztecs, who used it in various forms, from tortillas to tamales.

Spices and Herbs: The use of chili peppers, cumin, garlic, and lime reflects the flavor profiles that have been prominent in Mexican and Central American cooking for centuries.

Aztec Chicken with Sweet Potato-Corn Mash

Ingredients:

Chicken: Typically, boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are used, marinated in a blend of spices.

Marinade: A mixture of ingredients such as chili powder, cumin, garlic, lime juice, and olive oil.

Sweet Potato-Corn Mash: Made from sweet potatoes, corn, and often flavored with butter, milk, and a touch of honey or brown sugar.

Toppings: Fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and sometimes a sprinkle of queso fresco or cotija cheese.

For the Aztec Chicken:
• Chicken Breasts: 4 boneless, skinless
• Olive Oil: 2 tablespoons
• Garlic Powder: 1 teaspoon
• Ground Cumin: 1 teaspoon
• Chili Powder: 1 teaspoon
• Smoked Paprika: 1 teaspoon
• Ground Coriander: 1/2 teaspoon
• Salt: 1 teaspoon
• Black Pepper: 1/2 teaspoon
• Lime Juice: 2 tablespoons
• Fresh Cilantro: For garnish
For the Sweet Potato-Corn Mash:
• Sweet Potatoes: 3 large, peeled and cubed
• Corn Kernels: 1 cup (fresh or frozen)
• Butter: 2 tablespoons
• Milk: 1/4 cup
• Salt: To taste
• Black Pepper: To taste
• Ground Cumin: 1/2 teaspoon
• Chopped Scallions: 1/4 cup (optional for garnish)

Instructions:

Marinating the Chicken: The chicken is marinated in a blend of chili powder, cumin, garlic, lime juice, and olive oil for at least an hour to infuse the flavors.

Grilling the Chicken: The marinated chicken is grilled until it is cooked through and has a nice char.

Making the Sweet Potato-Corn Mash: Sweet potatoes are boiled until tender, then mashed together with corn, butter, milk, and seasonings until smooth and creamy.

Serving:

Plating: The grilled chicken is served on top of or alongside the sweet potato-corn mash.

Garnishes: The dish is garnished with fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and optionally, a sprinkle of queso fresco or cotija cheese.

Accompaniments: Often served with a fresh salad or roasted vegetables for a balanced meal.

Tips:

1. Prepare the Chicken Marinade:
◦ In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic powder, ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, ground coriander, salt, black pepper, and lime juice.
◦ Rub this mixture evenly over the chicken breasts. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer for more flavor.
2. Cook the Chicken:
◦ Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
◦ Grill the chicken breasts for about 6-8 minutes per side, or until fully cooked and nicely charred. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C).
◦ Remove from the grill and let rest for a few minutes.
3. Prepare the Sweet Potato-Corn Mash:
◦ In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add the cubed sweet potatoes. Cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes.
◦ While the sweet potatoes are cooking, if using fresh corn, you can grill or roast the corn until slightly charred and then remove the kernels.
◦ Drain the sweet potatoes and return them to the pot.
◦ Add the corn kernels, butter, milk, salt, black pepper, and ground cumin.
◦ Mash everything together until smooth and creamy. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
4. Serve:
◦ Plate the sweet potato-corn mash and place a grilled chicken breast on top.
◦ Garnish with fresh cilantro and chopped scallions (if using).
◦ Serve with lime wedges on the side for an extra burst of flavor.

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