Happy Cinco de Mayo! In honor of today I wanted to make a classic mexican dish.  At first I wanted to make steak tacos with homemade tortillas. But, it just so happened that everyone around me had the same idea. There wasn’t a single flank steak to be found within 10 miles. So I changed it up and made chicken tacos.  Luckily there just happened to be a few chickens at the market.

Chicken Tacos with homemade tortillas and hot sauce
Chicken Tacos with homemade tortillas and hot sauce

These chicken tacos are so easy.  Even with making your own tortillas it was on the table in 2 hours.  30 minutes or less with store bought tortillas.

Chicken Tacos Marinade

  • 1-2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts (3-4 chicken breasts)
  • 1 tsp salt (fine sea or kosher preferred) corrected on 11/3/09
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 lime squeezed

First things first. Time to prepare the chicken so that you can marinate it. I bought standard chicken breasts that are rather thick and not uniform by any means. So I layered the chicken in plastic wrap and pounded them out so that they were more uniform in thickness. This will help the cooking and also will make it so that all of the strips are uniform for presentation.

Layer with plastic wrap
Layer with plastic wrap

Use any heavy object to flatten the chicken
Use any heavy object to flatten the chicken

Place the chicken in a zip top bag and add the marinade ingredients.  Mix it around making sure that the ingredients touch all of the exposed surfaces of the chicken.  Let sit 20 minutes to overnight.  This can be done the day before making it an even quicker meal.

Time for the tortillas – (From Allrecipes.com – Authentic Mexican Tortillas)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup hot water

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. With a pastry cutter or a fork.  Then cut in the shortening till the mixture is crumbly. If the mixture looks more floury than crumbly add a bit more shortening. Then add about 1/2-3/4 cup hot water to the mixture, or just enough to make the ingredients look moist.

Flour and Baking powder mixed.
Flour and Baking powder mixed.

Cutting in the shortening
Cutting in the shortening

With your hand or a large fork, knead the mixture making sure to rub the dough against the sides of the large mixing bowl to gather any clinging dough. If the dough still sticks to the side of the bowl, add a couple more tablespoons of flour until the dough forms a soft round shape. Cover the dough with a dish towel, and let it sit for about an hour or so.

The dough formed a ball and is ready to rest for 20 mins to an hour.
The dough formed a ball and is ready to rest for 20 mins to an hour.

Take the dough, and pull it apart into 10 to 12 balls. Place the dough ball between two sheets of wax paper.  Then roll out the dough till it is about 1/8 inch or less.  I found that using a rolling pin makes uneven tortillas, but if you go to your local international super market they have tortilla presses for less than $10.  The presses make thin and perfectly round tortillas every time.  If you think that you might make more than 12 tortillas in your lifetime then I would suggest the purchase.

Place the ball between wax paper and roll out
Place the ball between wax paper and roll

Tortilla after being rolled out
Tortilla after being rolled out

Place each tortilla on a medium hot skillet. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until the tortilla does not look doughy.  Keep the tortillas warm in the oven covered with a damp towel.

Place on skillet
Place on skillet

Cook over Med till brown
Cook over Med till brown

Now it is time to prepare some toppings for the tacos.  I like to have saute’d peppers and onions on my tacos.  To prepare the peppers, first grill the peppers to blister the skins.  Once the peppers are blackened on the outside remove them from the grill and place them in a plastic bag for 5-10 mins.

I used and indoor grill pan as it was raining outside.  You miss a bit on flavor but adding the heat to the peppers makes them taste amazing.
I used and indoor grill pan as it was raining outside. You miss a bit on flavor but adding the heat to the peppers makes them taste amazing. As you can see I used red hot peppers, jalepenos, and bell peppers.

The plastic bag will allow the peppers to steam allowing the skins to come off easier.

After steaming the peppers in a plastic ziptop bag you can easily peel them with the edge of a knife or even your fingers.
After steaming the peppers in a plastic ziptop bag you can easily peel them with the edge of a knife or even your fingers.

Dice up the peppers along with a medium onion and saute’ over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. To saute’s add a couple of tablespoons of oil to the pan along with a tad bit of salt.  This will soften the onion and carmelize the peppers.  Tasty.

Peppers and onions saute'd together, mmm.
Peppers and onions saute'd together, mmm.

Time to grill up the chicken.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and place over a high heat grill.  I used an indoor grill pan as it was pouring outside, but an outdoor grill will give a better result.  Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side and it should be perfectly done.

Chicken on the grill
Chicken on the grill

Remember we pounded the chicken flat making it so that it was an even thickness all the way across.  This makes it so that our grilling time is less.  Plus the tad bit of lime juice that we put in the marinade has already started to cook the chicken.  You have to love acidity.

Indoor grill pan doesn't leave the marks like a charcoal grill but it still looks amazing.
Indoor grill pan doesn't leave the marks like a charcoal grill but it still looks amazing.

Remove from the grill and let rest for a couple of minutes.  Then either cut into strips or cube the chicken.  Serve on the homemade tortillas with the saute’d peppers and onions, some homemade hot sauce and a tad bit of cheese.

Amazing.  The chicken, peppers, onions and hot sauce worked together perfectly.
Amazing. The chicken, peppers, onions and hot sauce worked together perfectly.

A quick note – The tortillas tasted perfect but were a little thick for me.  Next time I am going to invest in a tortilla press.  Otherwise this dish was amazing.  Enjoy and happy Cinco De Mayo!

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.

3 Comments

  1. These were WAY too salty. Couldn't eat. 1 tablespoon of salt…are you sure??

    • Bob, Sorry about that. I looked through my written recipe and it was supposed to be 1 tsp of salt. I totally typed that up in error. I am extremely sorry. I fixed the page. I usually double check the recipe to make sure that I typed it the same way as I wrote it down when making it. I totally screwed this one up.

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