Spice-Rubbed Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw & Chipotle Cream
I wasn’t planning on even mentioning this dish. I have no expertise in the realm of authentic Latina cooking and typically leave it up to others that actually know what they’re talking about. I mostly just do the eating. Since, well, that happens to be my expertise.
But it makes no difference because these impromptu tacos and those close to the HungrytoHappy kitchen were at something of a standstill. They were dinner last Tuesday. They were lunch on Wednesday. They were a snack on Thursday. And if that isn’t a good indication of how good they were, let me tell you. They were awesome.
I’m going to Guatemala tomorrow. I don’t doubt I’ll eat food better than this, but for all I care, this counts for something. The bright and tangy flavors of cilantro and lime along with the crunch from the average packaged coleslaw are unmatched when paired with some spice-rubbed chicken, red bell pepper, and zucchini. Oh, and that chipotle cream? Absolute perfection. It adds a hot and smokey dimension to the cool and creamy zing that is sour cream. As if all of that weren’t good enough already, it’s all layered atop a toasty corn tortilla that emits a scent that takes me directly to Adela’s kitchen in Los Angeles – the cozy dining table, plates of food, ice-cold coronas with salt and lime, Adela delivering a freshly-heated stack of corn tortillas bundled in a kitchen towel. This is the type of family meal I always crave. I can’t wait to satisfy that craving tomorrow. So until then, buen provecho!
Spice-Rubbed Chicken and Vegetable Tacos with Cilantro Slaw & Chipotle Cream
Adapted loosely from Bon Appétit, June 2006
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles* (about 2-3 chiles with adobo sauce)
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked hot Spanish paprika (Pimentón de la Vera, or regular paprika would suffice)
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch-thick strips
3 tablespoons canola oil
6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
Buttermilk (enough to soak chicken)
12 5- to 6-inch-diameter corn tortillas, warmed
Cilantro Slaw (recipe as follows)
2 limes, each cut into 6 wedges
Season chicken thighs in shallow pan with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cover and soak in buttermilk for 2 hours, or best overnight.
Whisk sour cream and chipotle chiles in small bowl; season with salt. Whisk brown sugar and next 5 ingredients in another small bowl to blend for spice rub.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
Drain buttermilk and place chicken thighs on rimmed baking pan. Place zucchini and red bell pepper on separate baking pan. Drizzle with canola oil; toss to coat. Sprinkle spice rub over both sides of vegetables and chicken.
Rub thighs with prepared seasoning. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoon oil in a 12″ cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking.
Nestle chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue cooking skin side dow, occasionally rearranging chicken thighs and rotating pan to evenly distribute heat, until fat renders and skin is golden brown, about 12 minutes.
Transfer skillet (or transfer chicken back to baking sheet/pan) to oven and cook 13 more minutes. Add seasoned vegetables to chicken. Flip chicken; continue cooking until skin crisps and meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Cook until vegetables are tender and browned in spots and chicken is cooked through.
Transfer to work surface; tear chicken into shreds. Cut vegetables crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces. Place chicken and vegetables in large bowl; toss to blend.
Place chicken and vegetables, chipotle cream, tortillas, slaw, and lime wedges on table. Allow guests to assemble their own soft tacos.
Adapted barely from Bon Appétit, June 2006
Makes about 5 cups
12 ounces purchased shredded three-color coleslaw mix (about 7 cups)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Place coleslaw mix and cilantro in large bowl. Whisk canola oil, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cumin in medium bowl to blend. Add to cabbage mixture; toss to coat.