Saturday, February 14, 2009

Last weekend's derby trip

From last weekend's derby trip to philly.

I wanted to make something really simple, healthy and yummy for the derby road trip to philly, so the first thing i thought was Tacos. I had made Adam and Natalie some similar tacos when they brought their little bundle home for the first time. Their version had homemade tomatillo sauce, queso fresco cheese, roasted onions and we broiled them in the oven till they were crispy. Natalie had been craving Mexican her entire pregnancy, so making her this version in an enchilada was a no brainer after she only ate saltine cracker and ice chips for about 2 days.

I didn't have a lot of time to get things ready- we were leaving around dinnertime after work friday, adamn was coming over to fix my dead battery in my car, and i still had to pack and walk the dog. I love to procrastinate!

While Adamn and I were tinkering in the car, I let the shredded chicken “marinate” in the green sauce so it could sop up all the flavor. The fix was quick and painless, and Adamn did a great job, so I gave him a packet of tacos to go to thank him.

After we were done, I packed a few derby shirts, Tylenol and a sleeping bag and didn’t need much more. I packed up all the tacos, wrapped up a couple lime wedges, and a ton of napkins and headed over to Morty and Coco’s house to meet Betty and Carman so we could be on our way to philly. I think the ladies liked the tacos, and they were way better than any fast food we could have gotten off of the interstate. Plus the car smelled like Mexican food and the ladies were quite with eating- if even just for a couple minutes. As I'm prone to do—I made way more than anyone could eat, and we had plenty left over by the time we actually got to tiny hotel room in big philly. Bonus tacos!

Road trip tacos, inspired by my favorite fast food place- Chipolte.
feeds 5-8 depending on your hunger
5 organic boneless skinless chicken thighs
kosher salt
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1 jar of smoked or roasted red peppers, chopped roughly
3 limes
1 8 ounce container of low fat sour cream
Squirt of honey
10-15 small soft tortillas
3 very ripe avacados
1 8oz can tomatillo sauce
1 bag frozen yellow corn
1 jalapeno pepper seeded, and minced finely
couple tsps of chili seasoning
couple tsps cumin or 1/4 c cilantro leaves chopped very finely

In a pot, put in enough water to fill half way up, and a good amount of kosher salt. Or- if you want you can do ½ water and ½ chicken stock- this makes the chicken rich and velvety tasting—but isn’t super necessary. You want the water to be somewhat salty- like pasta water. Put the chicken thighs in the water, and simmer the chicken thighs until they are done through the middle-between 10-15 minutes- no pink. Don’t boil the chicken-it’ll make it tough. When done the water will be filled with excess chicken fat- making this a healthier dish all around.

Remove the chicken from the water and set on a large cutting board. let them sit for 5-10 minutes- like you would let any meat rest.After the meat has rested, take 2 big forks and shred starting at the thinnest part of the chicken. To shred chicken, use two forks and insert the prongs back to back -- like you're playing the spoons- into the chicken while quickly pulling the forks away from each other. do this to all the chicken.

In a large bowl, add a can of tomatillo green sauce. i like to make my own- but since i was in a rush- i got a good quality pre made kind from the Latino foods store on broad-near broad and libby- you can also find this in any well stocked grocery store that has an international section. to the bowl, add chopped smoked/roasted red pepper, the juice of 1 lime, salt and pepper, a little honey, and some cumin or cilantro- whatever you have handy. add the chicken to the mixture and mix well so all of the shredded chicken is coated in the sauce. let the chicken sit in the sauce as long as possible.

You may wonder why i don't just use chicken breasts here. Sure, you could use them- but they're more expensive, and i think the breast tends to dry out quicker than the thigh. the thigh has a little more fat- which has more flavor and about 3 textures of the meat on it- the darker pinker meat from the section closest to the bone, that yummy connective muscle in between the larger muscles, and there's a little lighter meat towards the top of the thigh that shreads nicely. Plus its less expensive- which is better for a crowd and i think it has a more chicken-y flavor than the white meat. The darker meat stays moist and tender and sort of reminds me of the dark meat on turkey-- a prized part at my family's thanksgiving dinners.

Lauren and i take our guacamole very seriously. we love it and eat it any chance we get, and we've both made our own recipes better over the years. i think mine is best.

Cut the avocados going around the pit- tap the pit with a sharp knife (carefully) and remove the pit. Save 1 pit for storing in the guacamole later- if you're not going to eat it all in once sitting. the pit from the avocado helps prevent the guacamole from turning brown for some reason.

add avocado to a large bowl. smash 2 cloves of garlic and insert them into a garlic press, and press the garlic over the avocado mixture. this is one of the best tricks i know to get good garlic flavor incorporated into the guac. the garlic press minces the garlic very fine- while juicing the garlic somewhat. I’ve used roasted garlic before- but i like the tangy and bright flavor of the raw garlic. if you're not so into the garlic- start with 1 or a 1/2 a clove. zest 1/2 a lime, and add zest to guacamole. roll the lime under your hand on the counter until its soft- or if it's especially hard- microwave it for 10 seconds. squeeze the lime over the avacado and mix with the back of a fork.

i like it slightly chunky- but my sister uses a potato masher to mash her avacado- which makes a really creamy dip. add a pinch of sea salt, a couple grinds of black pepper, a couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce, and about a 1/2 a teasp of garlic powder and onion powder. mix well and taste- add more lime, salt, or pepper to your liking. i usually have to add at least a whole lime until i get it the way i like it.

Corn Salsa
Defrost corn, drain, and add to a bowl. Add a couple tsp of chili seasoning, salt and pepper, and start with ½ the amount of minced jalapeno and ½ a lime. Stir together and taste. If you want it spicier or with more lime- add to your liking.

Sour cream
In the jar of sour cream, add a little cumin and a little lime- and mix really well.

Assemble in the style of chipotle
rip off a large (about 18 inches or so) piece of heavy duty foil and place 2 tortillas down. Add chicken mixture, top with corn salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. Fold up the tacos and sit them side by side in the foil standing up roll down and tuck in the foil so you have a little handy package of tacos. Enjoy!i made all this food for less than 20 dollars.

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