Monday, July 22, 2013

chipotle chicken, corn, and avocado tacos.


Despite what you may think when you look at the pictures of s’mores, blueberry pie, and fried sushi cakes I am not an overly ambitious chef most nights of the week.  It’s not because I’m lazy or because I don’t want to spend my evening standing over my gorgeous slate island (Best. Purchase. Ever.) but it’s really because there is never enough time.  Things like the gym (to balance out all that bread I like to consume), laundry, and having conversations involving more than 10 words with my better half (because sometimes I want to feel like we still know each other at least a little) get in the way of my nightly culinary adventures.  Hectic nights leave me relying on reliable tried and true favorites – bowls of pasta, mussels, tartines, and my personal favorite, tacos. 

These tacos couldn't be simpler and more summer appropriate (I imagine they will be equally lovely in the winter when you need some summer love).  Poached chicken is tossed in a tangy cider vinegar dressing that pairs well with wedges of creamy avocado and sweet corn.  Slivers of chipotle chile provide the perfect amount of heat and a swipe of sour cream helps to hold the entire thing together.  It’s a refreshing dinner, the kind of thing that requires nothing more than a salad of crisp lettuce and sliced radish to serve it with (and who am I kidding a couple of beers is also a good idea.)  

Chipotle Chicken, Corn, and Avocado Tacos
Recipe adapted from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless

This couldn't be any easier (I’ve actually been making a recipe similar to this for a while now but this is a more streamlined version).  I love it because it can be made almost any day (because one should always have chicken in the freezer and chipotles in the fridge) and letting it chill in the fridge overnight really helps to marry the flavors (even though it’s pretty fantastic even after just 45 minutes of marinating.)  The corn was added because the idea of a meal without seasonal produce when we are in the midst of the seasonal produce peak would be a sad meal. And let's be honest, corn makes everything better.  

Serves 4

1 large bone in skin on chicken breast (about 1 pound)
2 large bay leaves
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 ears of corn, husked and silky threads removed
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 – 4 chipotle chiles in adobe, seeded and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro plus extra for garnish
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Accompaniments: 12 corn tortillas, sour cream, 1 avocado sliced into 12 wedges, cilantro to garnish

Bring 3-4 cups of water to boil in a large-sized pot (large enough to fit the chicken and also the corn when the chicken is done cooking).  Add to the water the bay leaves, peppercorns, and ½ teaspoons salt.  When the water comes to a boil add in the chicken, cover the pot, and cook the chicken for 10 minutes in the boiling water.  After 10 minutes, turn the heat off but keep the chicken in the broth (covered) for another 22 minutes.  This will cook the chicken all the way through.  Remove the chicken from the pot and allow it cool. 

Bring the pot of water you cooked the chicken in back to a boil.  Place the corn in the water.  Cook the corn in the boiling water for about 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, remove the corn from the water and allow it to cool. 

Skin and bone the chicken then tear the meat into large shreds and place it in a mixing bowl.   Cut the corn kernels off the cob and place the kernels in the bowl with the chicken.  Skim off all the fat on top of the broth, and then measure 3 tablespoons of broth into a small bowl.  Stir in the vinegar, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and add the sliced chipotle chiles and cilantro.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Stir, cover, and let stand for 45 minutes at room temperature.  (If serving later you can refrigerate it at this point.  This can also be refrigerated overnight, but allow it to come back to room temperature before serving).  

Heat your tortillas up in the oven or over a grill.  Top each tortilla with a little sour cream, the chicken mixture, a wedge of avocado, and a sprinkle of cilantro. 

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