Cook’s Corner

Robert Irvine’s Cuban chicken cuts calories


Main dish

Robert Irvine’s Cuban Chicken

3 pounds boneless chicken breast

3 tablespoons Cuban dry rub (recipe follows)

1 cup cilantro chimichurri (recipe follows)

1 Vidalia onion, sliced in 1/2-inch rings

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 bunch cilantro

12 lime wedges

Preheat grill and rub chicken on both sides with the Cuban rub. Brush sliced onion with grapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper. Place chicken on the grill and cook until done and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Add the seasoned onions to the grill when chicken is almost done. Grill onions on both sides while keeping the sliced onion rings together; this will make them easier to grill.

Once onions are tender and chicken is done, let the chicken rest while grilled onions are placed into a mixing bowl. Squeeze 6 of the lime wedges on top of the onions. Add some of the cilantro sprigs into the bowl with the warm grilled onions and lime juice. Season the onions with salt and pepper, toss gently and set aside. Scatter the warm grilled onions on top of the sliced chicken, drizzle with the cilantro chimichurri and garnish with the remaining cilantro sprigs. Serve the remaining chimichurri and lime wedges on the side. Makes 6 servings.

To make the Cuban dry rub, mix together 2 tablespoons ground cumin, 2 tablespoons paprika, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning and 1 tablespoon salt.

To make cilantro chimichurri, puree 1 bunch each roughly chopped cilantro and parsley, 1 dash crushed red pepper, 3 garlic cloves, 1 cup grapeseed oil, juice of 1 lemon, zest of 2 lemons, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons water.

Per serving: 623 calories (66 percent from fat), 45 g fat (8.4 g saturated, 12.7g monounsaturated), 145 mg cholesterol, 48 g protein, 4.2 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 570 mg sodium.

Source: Robert Irvine for Gold’s Gym.



1/2 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon whole pink peppercorns

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

Toast the nuts in a heavy skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Remove from skillet and spread on a plate to cool. Add remaining ingredients to the same skillet. Increase heat to medium-low and toast just until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool before placing in a food processor and pulsing just until coarsely ground; do not pulverize. Store in airtight container. Makes about 3/4 cup. To use: Sprinkle over grilled vegetables, use as a rub for meats, or serve as a dip for warm strips of pita with a side of olive oil.

Per tablespoon: 54calories (68 percent from fat), 4.3 g fat (0.5 g saturated, 2.2 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 1.9 g protein, 2.8 g carbohydrate, 1.1 g fiber, 247 mg sodium.

Source: Linda Cicero’s Cook’s Corner.

I am an avid follower of Robert Irvine’s Restaurant: Impossible on the Food Network. I love how this big, tough, fit guy grouses and slams but in the end does all he can to save a failing restaurant and rescue dreams.

So I was intrigued when he teamed with Gold’s Gym to offer recipes that could make backyard barbecue meals less calorie-dense (he says on average we each consume a whopping 3,000 calories in a single BBQ sitting).

Of course, I was drawn to his “Cuban” chicken, which is quite delicious and has some resemblance to Cuban cooking with the lime and grilled onions, though the Cajun seasoning is another matter. You can find more of his recipes at

Reader Question

Q: What is dukkah? I saw it mentioned casually in a story that said it was good party food.

J. J., Miami Beach

A: Dukkah is another ancient taste that has been rediscovered by trend-setters. It is from Egypt and is an aromatic blend of roasted nuts and seeds, usually hazelnuts plus sesame seeds, coriander and cumin.

Street vendors in Egypt sell paper cones of it along with strips of flatbread brushed with olive oil to be dipped in the mixture. The word comes from the Arabic word for “to pound,” as the mix traditionally was pounded to a consistency that is more crunchy than powder.

You can find dukkah at specialty markets or online, or make your own. The recipe here is influenced by two I found, one by New York Times columnist Martha Rose Shulman and one published in Bon Appetit magazine, but I would encourage experimentation that fits your own tastes.

Quick Takes

•  Martha Stewart has a refreshingly light remake on the Bloody Mary for summer parties or Father’s Day brunch: Pour vodka, preferably Crop Tomato ($25,, a third of the way up an ice-filled highball glass. Squeeze a few cherry tomatoes over the ice, then drop them in. Top with seltzer, and tuck in some fresh basil sprigs. Grind in fresh pepper if you want Mary to be a little spicy. Find more summer entertaining tips in the June issue of Martha Stewart Living.

•  Adult snow cones are a great way to beat the heat: Place 6 to 12 ice cubes in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of your preferred chopped fruit (I am partial to mangoes this time of year) and pulse till ice and fruit is broken up into tiny bits, like a granita. Transfer into an appropriate glass and add garnishes and a lacing of spirits if desired.

•  Chicago chef Diana Dávila Boldin makes a chamoyada — a Mexican dessert somewhat like a snowcone — in which habanero-spiced rum syrup, orange preserves and fresh strawberries are served over shaved ice with a lacing of horchata and sprinkling of black sea salt.

To make her rum syrup: Place 4 cups rum, 2 cups brown sugar and 1 sun-dried habanero in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then lower to a hard simmer until reduced by half. Chill and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Makes about 1 cup. To use: Fill a cup with shaved or crushed ice, pour rum syrup on top, add pureed fruit or preserves and add horchata. Serve with a spoon and a straw.

Dávila Boldin also makes her own orange preserves and horchata, made with rice, cinnamon and sugar. You can buy it already made in Latin markets or email me for the full recipe.

Sleuth’s Corner

Does anyone have the recipe for the chicken at the old Cye’s Rivergate in downtown Miami, maybe 30 to 40 years ago? There are many of us who remember it being the best.


Send questions and responses to or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

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