Monday, July 30, 2012

Margaritas and Shredded Chicken Taquitos with Salsa and Guacamole

Today I'd like to share with you my recipe for shredded chicken. I originally modeled it after the delicious shredded chicken you can find in burritos from taquerias all over southern California. But over the years it has kind of evolved into my own thing. I like to use it in burritos, enchiladas, tacos and, as you can see, taquitos. I've also included directions for taquitos, pico de gallo salsa, guacamole and margaritas.

Shredded Chicken:

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 spicy chile, seeded and minced (I've used dried pasillas, fresh seranos and fresh jalapenos. They're all good.)
  • 1-1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 small can El Pato tomato sauce - the green one (optional but delicious)
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • a big pinch of salt
  • 12 oz of the cheapest beer you have on hand (you can also use chicken broth if beer isn't your thing)
*This chicken freezes nicely, so I often make a double batch and freeze half for later use. That's what I did this time around. Hence the 2 cans of beer, packages of chicken, etc. Next time I think I'll just use one can of beer. It took a long time for the liquid to boil off and my chicken got a little over done and mushy.

In a medium/small pot, pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom and heat it over medium low heat.

Add the onions, spicy chilies, and garlic. Saute them until the onions soften.

Toss the chicken into the pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Give it a stir then bring it to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally until the chicken falls apart. If it starts to dry out and stick to the bottom of the pan, add some water or chicken broth. 
While the chicken is doing it's thing, work on your toppings and maybe a margarita to reward yourself for all your hard work.

Pico de Gallo:
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 jalapeƱo, minced
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 large green onions or 6 skinny ones, white parts only, minced
  • lime juice
  • salt

Combine the tomato, jalapeno, cilantro and green onions in a bowl. Add a squeeze of lime juice and a large pinch of salt. Stir it all up. And you're done! Easy peasy!

When it comes to guacamole, I'm a purist. No tomato. No onion. Just some avocado, a little lime or lemon juice, and salt to bring out the flavor. Toss it all into a bowl and mash it with a fork. Give it a taste and add more salt or juice as needed. If you're eating it with salty chips, go easy on the salt.

There are two main things that make this margarita recipe awesome. First, the tequila. Use good quality tequila that tastes good all on it's own. Secondly, I believe that by letting the lime juice and agaves syrup marinate with the lime zest, you get a deeper more complex flavor.
  • lime zest from 2 limes
  • lime juice from 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 3 shots tequila (about 4-5 ounces)
  • 1 shot triple sec (about 1.5 ounces)
  • salt

Put the lime zest, lime juice and agave syrup into a bowl. Let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Rub the edges of two glasses with the leftover lime and dip into a saucer of salt. Add 4-6 ice cubes to each glass.

Strain the juice mixture into a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila and triple sec and several ice cubes. Shake until it gets cold. Pour into the salt rimmed glasses.

  • corn tortillas
  • canola oil (about 1 cup)
  • shredded chicken
  • toothpicks
  • paper towels
  • kitchen thermometer

Lay out your tortillas on the paper towels in a single layer. You want them to dry out so they'll fry up better. Stale tortillas work beautifully here. Flip them once or twice over the course of 10-20 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan to 350˚F.

Fry the tortillas one at a time, for about 5 seconds on each side. You want them soft and flexible, not crispy.  As you finish each tortilla, transfer it to a paper towel.

Take the pan off the heat. Once the tortillas are cool, place a small amount of shredded chicken in the tortilla, roll it up and secure with toothpicks.

Put the oil back on the heat and bring it back up to temperature. Place the taquitos into the hot oil and fry 8 minutes total turning a quarter turn every 2 minutes (or until crispy and golden brown).

Put it all together!
Place 2 or 3 taquitos on a plate. Top with guacamole and salsa. To turn it into a full dinner, add a nice big green salad on the side or some beans and rice.

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