For those of you following my blog you may have noticed that I’ve been quiet for a month, or so. These last few months have been rough. Covid-19 is alive and well in the U.S. and I, along with many others, are adapting to the situation as best as we can.
I haven’t stopped cooking but I have to admit, my spirits have been down and I find it difficult to do much more than wake up, go to work, eat, sleep and repeat. I’m sure I’m not the only one experiencing those kind of feelings. I’ve been relying on tried and true recipes much of the time and I’ve been making lots of comfort food, most of which is not new or novel or worth posting. You get the idea.
This particular dish, Mesquite Smoked Chicken Tacos, was something I did back in early March, when many people in the U.S. were staying at home to avoid transmitting the virus. I took all three weeks of my vacation from work and I tilled my garden with nothing but a shovel and my bare hands, day after day. I ventured out to buy seeds and seedlings and planted all sorts of vegetables.
I returned to work two months ago and I’ve faced all sorts of challenges. So, you may see posts from me frequently or there may be big gaps between them. Such is life.
When I began making this recipe, I came across and onion that had started to sprout, in my pantry. I’m not the sort of person that throws anything away without consideration so, I cored the onion, used the edible part of the onion and planted the core.
Here’s what became of that onion core I planted. It should be ready to harvest in a few weeks.
For this recipe, I used a small charcoal grill, along with a few chunks of dry mesquite, for smoke. Any hard wood would be fine…oak, hickory… But, true to my Tex-Mex heritage I opted for mesquite.
2 lbs chicken breast, cut into 1” thick slices
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 Tbs cumin powder
2 tsp red chile powder
1 tsp oregano
1 large onion, diced
4 jalapeños, fire roasted, steamed, peeled and diced
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
Corn tortillas, briefly fried in oil
1 cup iceberg lettuce, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
½ cup sour cream
Marinate the chicken in the tomato sauce, cumin, red chile powder and oregano for at least an hour.
Start the charcoal grill. Add a few pieces of mesquite to the coals, when the coals become hot.
Once the grill is screaming hot, lay a cast iron skillet on the grate and add a tablespoon of cooking oil. Add the whole jalapeños and let them sizzle and char on all sides.
Remove the jalapeños and take them inside to steam in a covered skillet with a scant amount of water for a few minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the jalapeños to steam for about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken to the cast iron skillet and return it to the charcoal grill. Cook the chicken over low heat for about an hour, turning the chicken every 15 minutes.
While the chicken cooks, remove the jalapeños from the skillet and peel away the charred skins. Remove the seeds and stem and then chop the jalapeños into small pieces.
Add the jalapeños, onion and two tomatoes to the skillet and simmer at low/medium heat for several minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Remove to a serving bowl.
Chop the remaining tomato and sprinkle with garlic salt and oregano. Set aside.
Soften corn tortillas in a little hot oil. Set the tortillas aside until you are ready to assemble the tacos.
Remove the chicken from the grill and roughly chop into bite sized pieces.
Assemble the tacos by adding some chicken followed by some of the cooked tomato, onion and jalapeños, followed a little lettuce and then add a small dollop of sour cream and top with fresh, seasoned tomatoes and green onion.
Serve with rice and beans, a fresh salad, or fruit.