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Friday Fruits and Veggies: Fiesta Time

October 5, 2007

chilis.jpg

 I’m back on the wagon with Friday Fruits and Veggies.  Yea!

On tap for this week:
Escarole
Red Pepper
Tomatoes
Cilantro
Avocado
Bananas
Limes

Looks like a Mexican basket to me! This is the perfect excuse for me to run over to my local Tortilleria for fresh corn tortillas. Sunday would be a great day for Chicken Soft Tacos. In the past I’ve used a Bobby Flay recipe for the chicken:

New Mexican Style Soft Tacos w/ Hacked Chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds chicken legs and thighs, skin removed
Salt
3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 ancho chile, coarsely chopped
2 New Mexican chilies, coarsely chopped
4 cups chicken stock
6 sprigs cilantro, plus more chopped, for garnish
12 flour tortillas, warmed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and ancho chile powder. Sear, skin-side down, in the oil until golden brown. Turn over and brown on the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate.
Add the onion to the pan and cook until lightly golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the chicken back to the pot, add the chiles, stock, and cilantro, and bring to a boil. Cover and roast (or keep on the stove over med-low heat – ed.) in the oven until the chicken easily falls away from the bone, about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and strain the cooking liquid into a bowl.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove bones and cut or shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Place the reserved cooking liquid into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the shredded chicken, turn off the heat and let warm. Top tortillas with warm chicken and garnish.

Ed. Note – If you’re not into spicy foods, cut out the chilies and substitute one jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and cut in large pieces so you can pull them out at the end.

What I love about this recipe is the technique. Although hard to believe, the flavors here are secondary to the method which I call “sear and simmer”.  You can easily use this recipe as a guide to make a really subtle chicken and rice by adding thyme or sage in place of the cilantro, maybe some diced carrot or celery instead of the chilies, cipollini oinions, shrooms, whatev. Shred the chicken over some rice cooked in one part water and one part of the chicken cooking liquid and you’re golden.

I employ this method most frequently when I make my version of chicken cacciatore – sear chicken, add onion, garlic and herbs, deglaze with wine, add canned tomatoes, olives, shrooms, etc. and simmer until sauce is reduced and chicken falls off the bone.

Since it is essentially being stewed, the chicken gets spectacularly moist and delicious, keeps well in the fridge and heats up nicely. The other great thing about this recipe is that it’s relatively cheap since it calls for dark meat (use white if you wish). You can double or even triple the recipe (if you have the vessel for it) and feed a crowd very inexpensively especially if, like me, you can get homemade tortillas at about a buck a pound.

For my tacos, I’ll top them with lettuce (maybe I’ll sauté the escarole instead?), tomato, avocado, radish, cilantro, and some kind of cheese. Mr. D will no doubt add jalapeno and maybe a little hot sauce, that Devil. A squeeze of lime on the tacos, and in a Modelo, and we’ll be good to go.

How is your weekend shaping up food wise?

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