August 16, 2008

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Obviously, I don't get around to writing about food these days as much as I'd like. My only promise is that when you do come by, you'll find completely satisfying and reliably delicious food. Enough on that.

This recipe was mentioned in this previous post, so I figured I better come through. We've become absolutely obsessed with one cookbook. What is this manifestation of latin food-heaven on earth? Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday. I can't remember the last time I bought a cookbook and actually made more than say, one recipe (if that!) out of it. Can you? I have many beautiful, inspired and ambitious cookbooks that I dream of tackling, yet never really have the time. However, I dove into these recipes and they really rewarded me. The recipes are perfectly balanced - both utterly delicious and very homemade, yet easy enough to tackle on a weekday and completely unpretentious. The tag lines under the title of the cookbook really say it all: Easy. Full-Flavored. Tradition-packed.

Some of the bounty we've sampled (recipes that will hopefully make it to this blog eventually) are: roasted chipotle salsa; roasted tomatillo green chile salsa; adobo marinade; spinach and mushroom green chile enchiladas; Crusty chorizo and black bean subs; a glorious skillet-pineapple upside down cake.

These tacos are a spin-off of ideas from this cookbook. We marinate the chicken in chipotle chiles (yes, this is SPICY), charcoal-grill them and place them with caramalized onions, cilantro and avocado within corn tortillas. Not just any corn tortillas, though. A corn tortilla quesadilla-of-sorts, where we sandwich cheddar cheese between the tortillas and grill until the cheese melts and the tortillas are a bit crispy, but can still be folded. This may lead you to ask - is this taking things too far? Rather indulgent, isn't it? Well...yes. And if you don't like it, you're free to warm up a boring ol' plain corn tortilla for your taco. Or, fry your own tortillas to make homemade crispy taco shells.

So, this is more of a method than a recipe, but here you go!

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

1 can chipotle chiles in adobo
2 Tbsp water
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 yellow onion
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1-2 avocados, chopped
black or refried beans, optional

For EACH taco:
2 Tbsp cheese, shredded
(cheddar, monterey jack, queso fresco or goat cheese)
2 corn tortillas

1. Puree the chipotle chiles with their adobo sauce, plus the 1-2 Tbsp water in a food processor until smooth. Place the chicken in a ziploc bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat evenly. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight. I've kept this in the fridge for over 24 hours and it was fine.

2. Grill the chicken until just cooked through and still juicy. Let the chicken cool to room temperature. Thinly slice or chop for use in the tacos. Warning! Chicken is spicy =) Can be made a few days ahead.

3. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a saute pan. Add the sliced onions and cook over medium-low heat until the onions sweat, turn translucent and just begin to brown. Season with salt and pepper and turn the heat up to medium. Stir fairly often to prevent scorching and to brown all the onions evenly. This will take around 15 minutes.

4. Chop the avocado, prepare some salsa if you have time, wash the cilantro - get all of your toppings/accompaniments ready.

5. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a wide, nonstick skillet. Turn 2 corn tortillas in the oil and let saute for a few seconds to heat that side. Flip the tortillas over and sprinkle with cheese. Place another tortilla on top of each one, pressing down on the top of each one. Once the bottom side is slightly browned and crisped, flip the tortillas over to brown the other side. Once the cheese melts and the tortillas are golden, remove from the pan. Repeat for each taco.

6. Assemble your tacos. One each tortilla, pile some of the ultra-spicy chicken, onions, avocado, cilantro and a dollop of salsa or sour cream. YUM!

Fast Pizza Dough...revised!

I wanted to revise the previous pizza dough recipe to include the following options in case you do not have a food processor. Maybe using a standing mixer or just doing it by hand will be your preferred method. Either way, don't let it stop you from making this for dinner - TONIGHT!

Pizza Dough - the fast way!

(2 baking-sheet sized pizzas, each serving 3-4)
from The Best Recipe, by the editors of Cook's Illustrated

1 1/2 cups warm water (105-110 degrees F)
1 packet Rapid Rise yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups bread (or all-purpose) flour
1 1/2 Tbsp salt

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and then TURN OFF.

1. Food Processor Method:
Pulse water, yeast and sugar in a food processor, 2 times is sufficient. Add oil, flour and salt. Pulse until dough forms a fairly smooth ball, or basically comes together. It will be a bit tacky, but shouldn't be so sticky that it pulls apart, getting stuck on your fingers. Add more flour (or water, if too thick) by the Tbsp and pulse until desired consistency is achieved.

2. Stand Mixer Method:
Measure the water into a small bowl. Add the yeast and sugar and mix to combine. Next, add the oil to the yeast mixture. In the bowl of a standing mixer, place the flour and salt. Using the paddle hook, turn on low speed for a short time, just to combine. Add the liquid ingredients slowly to incorporate. Once a mass of dough forms, remove the paddle hook and replace with the dough hook. Knead with the dough hook on medium speed just briefly until a smooth ball forms.

3. Bowl Method – no appliances!
Measure the water into a small bowl. Add the yeast and sugar and mix to combine. Next, add the oil to the yeast mixture. Combine the salt and about ¾ of the flour in a large mixing bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour and mix until combined with a sturdy wooden spoon or spatula. Stir in the rest of the flour until a mass of dough forms. Place dough out on a floured cutting board and knead until smooth, about 5-7 minutes. Don’t knead in too much extra flour, just enough to keep it from sticking.

Place dough in a well-oiled bowl (I mean really well-oiled!), cover with plastic wrap and place in the oven for 40 minutes. Make sure the oven is turned off.

Remove and divide dough in half. Usually the dough is pretty soft and pliable; easy to spread out. (If it's too sticky, dip your fingers in olive oil and pat the dough out that way. Don't add too much extra flour to a sticky dough as this makes it tough, in my experience).

To Bake:
1. In a 450 degree oven, Bake crust, topped only with sauce, for 10 minutes
2. Remove crust and add toppings, including cheese on top
3. Bake another 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted

This method results in a crisp crust and cheese that is just melted, but not overly browned. If you pile all the toppings on the dough at the beginning, the crust never cooks through and is soggy in the middle.