Recipe: Tequila Lime Chicken Tacos

It was good enough to share the recipe, one I’m definitely going to prepare again. This recipe draws on my “deep southwestern” roots — I grew up in avocado, citrus, and dairy country. The agriculture is now gone from the region, which is overrun with white bread suburbia. But when I was a kid it was primarily an agricultural area, and a kid could run around all summer eating just whatever was at hand if he didn’t get caught. The neighborhood mothers hated it when the farmers let us loose in the tomato fields and we helpfully brought home shopping bags full to tomatoes that wouldn’t keep for more than a few days. It was a shock when I had to pay for avocados when I was in the Air Force and they were sad little Hass whose only saving grace is yield per acre. Anyway:

What you’ll need for the chicken filling, for two to four servings depending upon appetite:

  • Two chicken breast halves, filleted and skinned (AKA boneless/skinless)
  • Two large Anaheim chiles, roasted, seeded, peeled, and chopped
  • 1/3 cup minced Spanish Olives (pimento stuffed)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1-1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 ounces tequila añejo (Cuervo Gold, et al. Cheap but not rot-gut.)
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

For topping, you’ll want guacamole, sour cream, and chopped scallion. The guacamole is an absolute must, as I concocted the filling recipe with guacamole in mind. Amethyst had lettuce and instead of sour cream, (egad!) grated cheddar cheese on hers and liked it fine, but I swear to someone else’s gods that that woman would eat a turd if there were cheddar cheese on it. Oh: Make your own guacamole. There’s no such thing as a decent store-bought guacamole.

You’ll want to make these as soft tacos. Corn or flour tortillas at your option, but not hard shells. Frying shells intensifies their flavor, and we don’t want the shells getting in the way of the filling on this one.

On to the how to do it part:

Roast, peel, seed and chop the chiles. As in any other of my recipes that recommend roasting them yourself, you really should roast them yourself. We don’t want the sodium and/or citric acid of the canned version as they’ll make our chicken rubbery and screw up the flavor we’re going for.

Get your grill or grill pan wicked hot, way too hot for cooking poultry — we’re not cooking it here, just flavoring it. Oil the chicken with a high smoke point oil (I like grapeseed, but peanut will do, corn oil might, olive oil won’t) and quickly sear some grill marks into it. We’re going for nice, deep brown, not black. Turn the meat to get a criss-cross pattern, and on both sides, of course. Remove from the heat as soon as that’s accomplished, then let it cool until it can be handled.

Handling partially cooked chicken? Egad, man, you’re trying to kill us all with salmonella here! 😀 Nah. I’ve never poisoned anyone with food from my kitchen. Just be smart about it, okay?

Slice the breasts across the grain into 1/4 inch thick slices, then fling it all into a nice broad pan for which you’ve got a well fitting lid. Dump in the chicken broth, minced Spanish olives, chopped roasted chiles, and chopped onion. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until most of the broth has evaporated and the chicken is tender enough to cut easily with the end of wooden spoon. At that point, remove the lid and reduce the heat to low, chunk up the meat with the end of your spoon, and stir occasionally until the liquid has evaporated but the meat is still quite moist.

This is the perfect time to make the guacamole unless you’re somehow terribly slow about it. If you are terribly slow about it, the perfect time to start was a couple of minutes ago.

Mix two ounces tequila and one teaspoon lime juice. Pour over chicken, and stir. Reduce heat to low and allow tequila to infuse for five minutes, stirring occasionally.

And there’s your taco filling. The tequila flavor will be more intense than you’re accustomed to in tequila chicken dishes, but together with the guacamole it’s just perfect. The primary purpose of the Spanish olives, in fact, is to back up the tequila flavor so it stands right up and says ¡Hola, cabrónes!

I wouldn’t pair this with anything too spicy that might overwhelm the filling. I wouldn’t want tomatoes anywhere near it, either, as they’ll clash. In fact, I left the tomato out of the guacamole this evening for that very reason. That might have been a bit extreme, but that’s just the way I roll.

If you try it, I hope you like it was much as we did. If not, make some tortilla chips and have guacamole on chips and shots of tequila for dinner. 🙂

Speaking of tequila, there’s plenty left over from the fifth I bought for this. I’m outta here!


3 thoughts on “Recipe: Tequila Lime Chicken Tacos

  1. whyzat

    This sounds really good. I would leave out the olives, though. I can’t abide an olive!
    I had a soft taco with beef filling today at our favorite Mexican place. It was my birthday so I had a nice, big glass of Negro Modelo Especiale beer! The perfect meal.


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