Easy Chicken Tacos

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If I could take a bite out of the screen right now...easy there, Nicole. Good heavens these are some tasty tacos!  And as the recipe title indicates, they are pretty easy to make too.  Instead of slices of cooked chicken breast that can come out somewhat dry and rubbery, this recipe uses the poaching method that results in tender white meat that can be pulled into bite-size pieces.  Once the meat is pulled, it is returned to the skillet and tossed with the reduced sauce.  This gives each piece of meat a flavor injection.  And that flavor comes from chipotle chiles, orange juice (freshly squeezed, please), and two very surprising ingredients-- Worcestershire sauce and good ole American yellow mustard.  I know...weird, right? But they are actually two very common ingredients in Latin cooking.  The smokey heat from the chiles helps balance the sweetness of the orange juice, the Worcestershire gives the breast meat a deep, almost dark meat-like flavor, and the tangy mustard adds a little zing.  I also add some dried oregano (preferably the Mexican variety) for a little more herbal flavor to marry with all those robust flavors.

When it comes time to assemble these bad boys, use flour tortillas. (Don't forget the homemade ones.)  Normally I prefer corn tortillas over flour, but the flour ones are the perfect vehicle to deliver the goods in this recipe.  I also like to warm them on both sides over my gas stove until slightly charred for a little smokey flavor.  For the accroutrements-- first, I schmear on a good spoonful of a homemade avocado spread (recipe is below) because I think it is tastier than just diced avocado.  Then I add some shredded lettuce (gotta go iceberg here), a little pico de gallo, the yummy chicken, and then a nice drizzle of some Mexican crema.  Yes, you can use sour cream or even better, crème fraîche, but most markets these days do carry crema.  It is thinner than regular sour cream and it has a much richer taste.  (Quick kitchen tip-- sometimes I'll have some sour cream in the refrigerator that needs to be used up, so to mimick the texture and taste of crema, I thin the sour cream with a little heavy cream. Violà--mock crema.)  Finish the taco with some freshly squeezed lime juice and you have a south of the border feast for the eyes (that is until it becomes a feast for the body☺).  And for a fully loaded menu, serve the tacos with some Mexican Red Rice and those Refried Pinto Beans.
Printable Recipe

Easy Chicken Tacos
serves 6

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon minced chipotle chiles in adobe sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 Flour tortillas
Pico de Gallo
Avocado Spread (recipe follows)
Shredded Lettuce
Mexican Crema
Lime wedges

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter.  Add the garlic, chipotle chiles, and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, orange juice, and 1/2 cup of the cilantro.  Add the chicken and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat until the meat registers 160º F, about 10-15 minutes, flipping chicken half way through cooking.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent with foil.

Increase heat to medium-high and cook until the mixture is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the yellow mustard.  Using two forks, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and return to skillet.  Add cilantro to the chicken mixture and toss to combine.  Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Serve with tortillas and accompaniments.  Enjoy!

Avocado Spread
2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
1 medium clove garlic, finely grated on a microplane
Freshly squeezed lime juice to taste
Kosher salt to taste

In a medium bowl, mash the avocado into a spreadable consistency.  Stir in the garlic and season to taste with lime juice and salt.

Source: Tacos adapted from cookscountry.com, Avocado spread from The Galley Gourmet


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