Sorry for the brief hiatus, folks. I had to travel to Austin for some work shenanigans. It was a very good trip! But I’m back now, ready to grace you with a brand new recipe that I tested out yesterday. I don’t think I’m gonna have a chance to make it today, but I will cook it up later this week and add a slideshow with photos.
My recipes recently have been leaning towards a sort of California type cuisine, which I think has to do with the weather recently. It’s spring, suddenly, so I’ve been gravitating towards lighter, spicier flavors that sort of “match” the climate. Today’s recipe is for shredded Ancho tacos, which are easy and a great thing to make ahead for a pool day or a summer lunch or dinner. Plus, it makes a ton of chicken, so save the leftovers and make a taco salad or enchiladas! I used hickory smoked sea salt in the recipe, but any smoky salt will do. If you can’t find any, use kosher salt. It’ll alter the flavor slightly but still be good.
Ancho chile powder is becoming more available – check out Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma, or other high end specialty stores to find it. It is made from ground up dried Ancho chiles, obviously, which in their fresh form are just simple red poblano peppers. When they dry out, the flavor gets smokier and has a deeper, more complex flavor. The powder is also great to rub on fish for fish tacos. You can make your own powder, if you like, buy buying the dried peppers at the store, de-seeding them, and grinding the peppers in your blender or food processor.
So, the recipe:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, whole
1 tsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 tsp smoked salt
1 T ground cumin
1 1/2 T bittersweet paprika
1 T oregano
2 T ancho chile powder
2 T olive oil or vegetable oil plus more for sauteing
tortillas (corn or flour, I don’t care.)
sliced red onion
shredded manchego cheese
Fill a large pot 2/3 full with water. Bring to a boil. Add chicken, garlic, onion slivers, peppercorns, bay leaf, and some salt. Boil for 20 – 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Drain, and let chicken cool. With your fingers, shred the chicken, tossing any fat into the trash. Set the shredded chicken aside.
In a small bowl, mix together smoked salt, paprika, cumin, chile powder, and oregano. Stir in the olive oil or vegetable oil to make a paste. Heat up some more oil in a large saute pan, and add the shredded chicken. Add the spice paste and stir to coat the chicken evenly. Once the chicken is warmed and fully coated, turn off the heat.
Warm your tortillas in the oven by wrapping them in foil and setting the oven on 250 F for about 15 minutes. To assemble tacos, lay down some of the chicken in the middle, followed by the shredded manchego, sliced red onion, and then squeeze a little lime juice inside each taco. Wrap the tacos in foil to keep warm or serve immediately!
You can dress this up any way you want; I liked the smoothness of the manchego cheese. The lime juice adds a crucial zestiness that, like the Dude’s rug, brought the whole thing together.