It’s starting to get cold. Cold means frost which means winter vegetables. In the winter, we have two main options: squash or roots. This year I’m just not ready for either. Since I started paying more attention to seasonal produce, I have been amazed with how excited I am as new vegetables come to the greenmarket. Not this winter. My stomach has been saying “Winter, slow dooooown.” I’m eating tacos tonight. [I also had tacos last night.] For now I am beating the cold wind and puffy coats by building an inner fire using the magic of capsicum and tequila.
If you’re feeling what I’m feeling, join in on my fun. Chipotle chicken tacos with cheddar and guacamole.
2 jalapeno peppers, washed, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, preferably dry roasted
1/2 habanero chili, washed, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
2 tomatoes (or an assortment of smaller ones – because it adds variety)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, washed, stemmed, and chopped
Juice of one lime
Cut the avocados open lengthwise and remove the pit. Slit the meat lengthwise and remove from the skin. Place in a bowl and squeeze in the lime juice. Mash with a fork until a thick, lumpy paste. Add the remaining ingredients. Adjust the seasonings. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
2 chicken breasts
1 white onion, peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 dried chipotle chili, optional
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Add water to cover completely. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Partially cover and turn down to a steady simmer. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove chicken and cool.
Shred the chicken with a fork or your fingers.
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 medium white onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 14 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved
2 chipotle peppers from the canned in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 star anise
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and saute for a couple minutes. Then add in the garlic and saute for a couple minutes more until the onion turns translucent. Add the black pepper and fresh herb and saute for 30 seconds. Add in the tomatoes, juice, chicken stock, cinnamon stick, and anise. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to half, about 8 minutes. Salt the sauce. Remove the star anise and cinnamon stick. Add in the shredded chicken and stir. Cook for a minute until the chicken has warmed up.
My sourcing a recipe process starts with an idea, then involves rummaging through my cookbooks, hitting Epicurious, and following up by browsing food blogs (for authenticity). Embarrassingly enough I don’t have a Mexican cookbook to my name: suggestions? Deb had a shredded chicken taco recipe that she pulled from the Times back in 2006. I wasn’t too hot on the accompanying salsa fresca (having already made guacamole), so I started simmering the chicken then resumed my search for the perfect chipotle sauce. I stumbled upon this little number. If I had found it before starting the chicken, I probably would have followed it word for word. For the purpose of this post I have kept the recipe honest to demonstrate that lack of planning still pays off. So take your pick. And that’s how a recipe comes together!
6 corn taco shells
Shredded chipotle chicken
Sour cream (optional)
A few green leaf lettuce leaves, washed and ripped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, washed, stemmed, and chopped
1/2 cup aged sharp cheddar, grated
Turn the oven on to 250. Wrap the shells in tinfoil and warm them for 5-10. I had a little epiphany on the topic of taco-assembling yesterday: layering is key. It seems to be the objectives for laying are to balance the flavors, give moisture to the dry bits, create outstanding after outstanding bite (of course), and to showcase the spice but then cool it off with some dairy.
The layers came out thusly: chicken, guacamole, a little cheese, sour cream, lettuce, cheese, cilantro. BAM.
Entrance to mouth view.
My craving for tacos was inspired by the real deal. Earlier this year we took a short trip to Mexico City and were blown away by the food. While I can’t come close to (nor did I attempt) an authentic Mexican soft shell street taco (especially since their species of corn is not available here), they definitely have inspired my own.
Previous to visiting I had not really been a Mexican food enthusiast. In Mexico City the culture is spilling out in the streets. All the food you eat is made in the streets for dirt cheap with only the freshest ingredients. It is an incredibly vibrant, passionate food city. Mexican culture has brought us some of the richest culinary experiences and recipes. I attribute most of the quality of the food in New York to their kitchen work as well. Here’s a sample of some of the food we encountered. Or check out the full Flickr set.