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