Chicken Tacos

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: easy

‘It’s super easy and a new way to eat chicken you may not have tried yet. Shredding the chicken, with fresh salsa and guacamole makes it a delicious, fun summer meal for family and friends.’

Pete
'Another classic family meal for the weekend at our place. Everyone getting their hands into the center of the table and making their tacos in a bespoke way is what makes this meal so enjoyable.'

What you need

For the shredded chicken

2 chicken breasts

500ml chicken stock or 1 low salt stock cube in 500ml water

1 onion sliced very thinly

2 bay leaves

1 tsp dried oregano

1 large shallot chopped finely

1 clove garlic grated

1/2 red or green chilli to taste chopped

2 medium tomatoes chopped

For the accessories

8 -12 corn or flour tortillas

1 avocado sliced

Bowl of Greek yoghurt

Sliced iceberg lettuce

Cheese (cooking mozzarella pulled into strands, grated Wensleydale, mild cheddar, compte, or feta)

3 limes

Cholula chilli sauce – or other

For the pico de gallo

3 medium tomatoes

1/2 green or red chilli to taste

3 spring onions

Small bunch of coriander

Lime juice to taste

Salt



Dad's Recipe Tales

Pollo deshabrado para tacos – shredded chicken for tacos

You see, if you don’t read the stories in your recipe books you might not know why you are cooking something the way you are. I’ve been reading my Mexican cookbooks and finally learned why Mexicans shred their chicken.

I’ve been shredding chicken for a while. But I must admit, I don’t normally see this style of filling for a taco – it’s usually strips of seared and grilled meat. And here’s why: mass produced chickens for the American and European markets are fragile young things – they’re tender, but have relatively little flavour, whereas, Mexican chickens are sturdier older birds – they’re tough, but packed with flavour. It follows, therefore, that roasting a Mexican chicken will result in a dryer and tougher chicken. This is why Mexicans poach their chickens – either for shredding for tacos, or as a preparation for further cooking.

Well, that’s how the story goes… I’m sure that in reality a poached piece of chicken will always struggle to compare with a grilled chicken breast. But this is a useful insight to the deshabrado style of Mexican cooking.

Of course, here in Europe, we do not have flavourful Mexican chickens, but we can still enjoy our chicken shredded – just make sure you flavour the  poaching liquid and prepare the shredded meat with the fried onion, garlic, tomato and chilli as in the recipe. I notch-up the flavour yet again by adding crispy chicken skin to the shredded meat.

How Dad Cooked It

Once you have your shredded chicken and tortilla you can wing the rest of the ingredients – stuff the tortilla with whatever takes your fancy. However, essential for WDC is shredded lettuce, a fresh tomato salsa (pico de gallo), avocado and Greek yoghurt.

  1. Poach the chicken. Put the stock in a pan and add the onion, bay leaves and oregano. Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and ensuring the water is under a boil, continue to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Either test to see that it is not pink or use a thermometer and check the internal temperature of the chicken is held at 70C for two minutes. Let the chicken cool in the broth. When cool remove the chicken and reserve the stock. It can be used to moisten the chicken and in other sauces.
  2. Make the pico de gallo. This salsa must be chopped by hand – do not be tempted to use a blender (even for a second). Chop the tomatoes into a very small cube, finely chop the spring onion the chilli and the coriander. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and add lime to taste.
  3. Make the chicken filling. Place a fillet on a board and using the tines of a fork shred the chicken and put into a bowl. Heat a frying pan on medium high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the shallots. Fry these without burning for 5 minutes, add the chilli, and garlic and cook for a couple more minutes, stirring well. Then add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes until reduced and soft. Add a good splash of poaching broth and reduce. Add the chicken and fry for 3 minutes or so – or until piping hot. Moisten further with the poaching broth if necessary.
  4. Prepare the accessories. Chop or slice the lettuce and avocado. Put some yoghurt in a bowl. Prepare the cheese by pulling the mozzarella into strands or grating the other types of cheese. Heat the tortilla in a hot skillet without oil and keep them wrapped in tin foil and keep them warm in the oven on very low heat.
  5. Serve. Place all the ingredients in the middle of the table and let people help themselves.
  6. Other sauces: This will go well with my chipotle chilli sauce. If you do not have the time to make a homemade sauce, go for a bottle of ‘Cholula’ chilli sauce, or El Yucateco (from Mex Grocer).

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