Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Three Dinner Chicken: Part II

If there is one thing I can’t resist at (one of) our favorite Taqueria(s) in Santa Cruz, it is the crispy tacos and the salty crunchy experience that accompanies each bite. These homemade tacos are just as good, in their own unique way, thanks to Jon’s awesome taco shell making skills. We had a lot of fun (okay maybe I had a little bit more fun) documenting his technique to share here. The chicken filling is also unique with a bit of spicy sweet added by currants (or raisins) and cinnamon.

We make crispy chicken tacos one or two nights after roasting a whole chicken (Part I), and it makes for a relatively easy and thrifty night of cooking. Cooking with another person is, well, very personal. This is one of the meals that Jon and I share the cooking responsibility. Though, since having Cole we aren’t so much cooking together, but more tag-team cooking. My piece is done, and … you’re it. Regardless, until you get the hang of it, it’s probably best to keep distractions to an absolute minimum when crisping taco shells; they do best with undivided attention.
Crispy Chicken Tacos

Give yourself some time (at least 15 minutes) to remove the meat from the previous nights’ roast chicken. It isn’t something you can easily rush. If you are going to be making chicken noodle soup on night three, you will want to reserve some meat, but if you are using it for chicken broth on night three then remove as much meat as you can for the tacos and leftovers.

Servings: 2 (the second night)
Cost: $5, $2.50/person (Assuming chicken used over three nights)
Time: 45 mins active

1 tsp olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
¼ tsp cayenne
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
½ cup chicken broth or water
½ currants or raisins

¼ cup to ½ cup Vegetable Oil
8 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Taco condiments of choice. Such as:
1 tomato diced
4 leaves red lettuce, cut or torn into bite size pieces
Sour cream

And on the side or in the taco options:
Black beans
Spanish Rice

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook stirring occasionally until translucent and beginning to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes more. Add chicken, stirring occasionally for 2 to 5 more minutes. Chicken may start to brown and stick to bottom of pan. At this point add the chicken broth or water (depending on what you have on hand) and the currants or raisins to the chicken onion mixture. Use a spoon to scrape any browned pieces from the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes or until chicken is heated through. Taste chicken and add additional seasonings to taste. Remove from heat and cover.

Jon’s Specialty: The taco shells

Line a baking sheet, plate or part of your counter with paper towels. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. In a skillet add enough vegetable oil so that the tortillas can be submerged (about ¼ to ½ inch deep). Heat oil over medium high heat for several minutes, until hot but NOT smoking. If it starts to smoke, remove the oil from the heat and wait 5 minutes before proceeding. You can tell when the oil is ready by dipping the edge of a tortilla in - if the oil starts to bubble gently, you're ready. Using tongs (make sure they're metal!!), add a tortilla to the skillet. Use the tip of the tongs to submerge the tortilla, bringing oil onto the tortilla top. If your oil is really hot, your tortilla itself may develop bubbles - you can pop these with your tongs and turn the heat down on your oil just a bit. Cook until the bottom of tortilla just begins to brown, then flip the tortilla. Ideally, the tortilla will now be stiff enough that you can bend it and it will hold its shape but not break. Using the tongs, and bracing one half of the tortilla against the bottom of the skillet, carefully fold the tortilla in half, though not so far that the two sides are touching. You want enough space between the two sides that you can put your filling in, sort of a "U" or "V" shape. Your tortilla will not completely submerge now (one side will stick out). Alternate putting each side in the oil until the tortilla is nicely browned. Transfer taco shell to paper towels, and cook remaining tortillas in a similar fashion. When you get the hang of it, you can add the next tortilla after you make the fold on one.

Add cheese to taco shells as they cool. Once taco shells are complete and filled with cheese, transfer to a baking tray and place in oven to melt the cheese and keep warm.

Finish prep on taco condiments, arrange and serve with taco shells and chicken.


sugarpockets said...

This was a fantastic recipe! I tweaked it a little by adding a little ground coriander and garlic and made it into a chicken quesadilla instead of tacos. But it was really nice mix of flavors--a similar combination to several pakistani and indian dishes, but with mexican flair.

I love your blog and I definitely look forward to checking it more often. Bryn, thanks for introducing me to it!

Julia said...

WOW! I can't believe you got this recipe up so quickly after we made our roast chicken (using your meat thermometer...turned out great, by the way!) and you said "I better hurry up and post the crispy chicken tacos recipe". You guys are amazing. Looks so yummy.

Emily said...

Wow. It is so so so cool that you made this recipe - and liked it to boot. Your comment made me want to experiment with more pakistani/indian dishes, as I love these flavors too.

Hi Julia - you guys rock. Next time we talk I GOTTA ask you about how Mom and Dad's chicken turned out...

thanks for your comments!