Chicken Jalapeño Taco

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

A classic Mexican way with chicken is deshebrado – or shredded. Mexican chickens were historically older and tougher than our delicate young birds, poaching retains flavour and shredding makes the toughest bird tender.

An easy chicken taco.

What you need

For the tacos

Corn tortillas

Half a cold rotisserie chicken (or two large chicken breasts with skin)

4 jalapeno green chillies

400g fresh or tinned tomatillos or fresh tomatoes

1 large white onion, cut in quarters

2 large cloves of garlic, peeled

Handful chopped parsley

Taco accompaniments – Amounts to suit

Chopped lettuce

Chopped tomatoes – or pico de gallo (chopped tomatoes, onion, chilli, coriander)

Sliced avocado

Grated or crumbled cheese (mild cheddar, Wensleydale, hard mozzarella, feta)

Crema – Greek yoghurt, sour cream, or crème fraiche or a mix, with a little lime juice and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Chopped green or red chillies

Chopped coriander

Limes

Chilli sauces of choice…



How Dad Cooked It

Rotisserie chickens shred very well, including the dark meat, but fresh chicken breasts can be poached and shredded if preferred.

The Mexican way with many sauces is to ‘broil’ or char ingredients in a pan and then blitz in a blender and return to a pan to finish cooking. The traditional pan for ‘broiling’ is a ‘comal’ (cast iron flat pan). Therefore, a cast iron pan is the best tool for the job, but a normal non-stick pan can also be used providing you are happy cooking at a relatively (possibly lifetime-guaranteeing-limiting) high temperature. Otherwise, cook the ingredients on a baking sheet under the grill. The idea is to soften and partially cook, whilst charring a little – not to cook all the way through or blacken excessively.

I had the idea of scattering crisp chicken skins on top of the chicken mix, but this is of course optional!

  1. If poaching the chicken, remove the skin and set aside. Add the breasts to a saucepan of boiling water and simmer until just cooked through about 10 -15 minutes depending on thickness of chicken. Take of the heat put the chicken in a bowl and pour over the poaching liquid to cover – cool in the liquid (reserve the liquid for later).
  2. If using rotisserie chicken remove the skin and set aside. Bone the chicken and put the bones in a pan with a little boiling water to cover and simmer for half an hour to make a stock. Shred the rotisserie – or cooled poached – chicken. Set aside.
  3. If using fresh tomatillos or tomatoes, put these into a cast iron pan (see note above) along with the chillies, garlic and onion. Turn the heat up high and cook, allowing the ingredients to soften somewhat and char a little and evenly, keep turning and remove ingredients as they become ready. NB: If desired, protect the ingredients from the blackening of charring by leaving the skin on the garlic and onion and peeling after cooking, removing the chillies before they blacken, and peeling the tomatillos or tomatoes after cooking. However, top Mexican authority, Diana Kennedy, says don’t bother – the black bits add interest to the finished dish…
  4. Remove any excessively burnt bits from the broiling ingredients. Cut the stalk off the chillies (remove the seeds if less heat is preferred). Put all the broiling ingredients, including the tinned tomatillos if using (with a little of the liquid from the can) into a blender. Add a little of the chicken stock or poaching liquid and blend. Pour into a saucepan and cook for about 8 minutes – it should be consistency of a thick sauce.
  5. Put the chicken skins into a small saucepan fry in oil until browned and crisp. Drain on kitchen towels.
  6. Just before serving, add the chicken to hot a pan with a little oil and fry for a minute or two. Add the sauce and mix then mix in the parsley, check seasoning and cook for a couple more minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and scatter chopped chicken skins over the top.
  7. Warm the tortillas (in the oven wrapped in tin foil, in the microwave in a plastic tortilla warmer or zip bag, or individually on a hot dry frying pan). Serve, along with laid out accompaniments for everybody to make their own tacos.

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