BBQ Chicken Street Tacos

Ok, so I have posted a previous recipe for the mighty street taco with instructions on how to pack it up for work and save yourself from the daily sandwich miasma. Now that you have mastered that, why not go fusion by making your tacos with shredded chicken smothered in sweet heat BBQ sauce? I’m pretty sure I just made your tummy rumble.

BBQ Chicken Street Tacos

BBQ Chicken Street Tacos

Ingredients

Prep

  • In a small sauce pan, mix the shredded chicken and BBQ sauce together until the chicken is fully coated.
  • Heat the mixture over a very low flame, stirring often.
  • In the meantime, heat up a non stick or cast iron skillet and add the olive oil.
  • Heat up the tortillas until they are warm, soft, and have just a hint of crisp to the surface.

If you are taking this to work for lunch, transfer your tortillas to a plastic bag and seal. Transfer the warmed mixture to tupperware and put the chopped onion in cilantro into a small separate container as well. Whether you warm the mixture up again or not is your choice. If you want to reheat your tortillas just toss the bag in the microwave and heat for about 10 – 30 seconds. Don’t over do it or they will be rubbery.

When you are ready to eat, just assemble the tacos by layering two tortillas, spooning about 2 tbsp of the mixture and sprinkle onion and cilantro down the center.

~Nom on with yo fussy, fusion tacos!

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Chile Rellenos: Fried batter goodness

Another Saturday afternoon, another meal to figure out for lunch that doesn’t feel like a week day. Am I weird that I want my lunches on Saturday to be a little more interesting than the left overs or two pieces of bread and slab of deli meat I usually eat for lunch? Anyway, enter the chile rellenos. Super yummy and a great vehicle for salsa to get im ma mouf.

Chile Relleno

Chile Relleno

Ingredients

  • 12 Pasilla or Anaheim peppers
  • 1 pd block of jack or pepper jack cheese
    (*Don’t be cheap alert! If you have a smoked cheese, this is the time to use it. Some basic grocery stores sell habanero pepper jack and farmers markets often have cheese merchants that sell some bomb-ass smoked cheeses. The picture above has a smoked hot house pepper jack I picked up from my farmers market. Umm…yummy!!!)
  • Grapeseed (recommended as its flavor-neutral) or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Prep

  • Roast chili peppers

There are a few ways to do this. You can either brush the peppers with olive oil and roast them under the broiler, you can put them in a cast iron skillet or on a cast iron griddle, or you can put them right on the burner. The goal is to char the skins and get the peppers soft and flaccid. ( He, he, she said flaccid.)

Roasted Peppers

When the chiles are done roasting, put them in a plastic bag to steam for a few minutes. If you don’t have time to finish the project you can actually leave the peppers in the bag until you are ready to make your rellenos.

Steamed Chiles

  • Slice a small opening into the chiles and scoop out the seeds. Using a paper towel and over the sink with the facet trickling, scrap the chard skins off the peppers.
  • Cut the 1 pound of cheese into 12 strips of equal size.
  • Stuff each pepper with a slice of cheese and close them up.
  • Mix the egg, flour, milk, baking soda and powder, salt and pepper and whisk with a fork. Sprinkle flour on your cutting board or prep surface.
  • Pour a fair amount of oil into your skillet, up to 1 inch and heat over a medium-high flame. (Personally, I don’t like cooking with that deep an oil bath because it splatters like crazy and is wasteful. I don’t cook with cheap oil, so I pour enough in to make about 1/4 inch bath and it browns the batter just fine.)
  • Now comes the tricky part. With your skillet oil slightly smoking, take a stuffed pepper and roll it in flour, than dip into the batter. Place the gooey, dripping mess into the oil and fry. Using tongs. each side only needs a minute or less, so roll as gently as you can to brown all sides of your relleno.
  • Once all the batter is fried, use tongs and transfer to a plate. Repeat that exact process with each of your peppers.
  • Once you have all your peppers fried, you may need to pop them in the microwave for just a few seconds to make sure that cheese is melted inside. This will depend on how thick the slices of cheese were that you stuffed the peppers with and how deep an oil bath you used.

How do I garnish and serve the rellenos?

Ok, this dish is popular all over north and south america and garnish styles do vary. If you are used to eating your rellenos served drenched in a mild ranchera sauce, you can certainly do that. I have had them that way, sometimes baked with a little cheese on top of the sauce. I have had rellenos served almost as a soup, the tomato sauce more a delicate broth than a sauce.  However, there are some communities that serve the dish plain and offer salsa roja or salsa verde and maybe a little sour cream to garnish as you see fit. I recommend you try it WITHOUT a sauce bath at least once because they are amaze-balls.

Try to eat your fill of rellenos BEFORE you look over at the disgusting, oil-splatter, batter-drip-covered nightmare your kitchen has become. It will bolster your spirits for the clean up job ahead. Or, if you have kids of chore-doing age, make those little punks deal with the mess while you take a nap and really give all that cheese and batter carte blanche access to your thighs.

~Nom On

Quesadilla Flight

Quesadilla flight: The cure to the Saturday lunch doldrums

Oh lord, It’s Saturday afternoon again. The whole family is milling around, wanting lunch and a stack of sandwiches just sounds so….weekday sad. The errands are run and maybe you have a little more time to cook than usual. You look in the fridge and see a bunch of random, almost used up stuff like chicken breast, deli meat, and a couple chuncks of cheese. I keep a stack of corn tortillas handy to handle the Saturday afternoon, because nothing uses up leftovers and delights the palate like the quesadilla flight!

Quesadilla Flight

The Quesadilla Flight

Ingredients

  • Shredded cheese – any kind, seriously. You can use cream cheese, too. I find jack or mozzerlla to be the most-kid friendly, so if you have that, use it.
  • Filling – empty your fridge of things like the tomato and avocado that are close to spoiling, the almost empty tub of deli meat, that lone left over chicken breast, the ubiqutous 1/2 onion … you get the idea. These all sound obvious but you can use up squash and that 1/4 jar of spaghetti sauce, too. Corn tortillas are one of the most versatile canvases ever, so don’t assume your flight has to only offer the more classic Mexican cuisine flavors.
  • Corn tortillas – they are healthier, tastier, and less caloric than flour. They are also smaller in size and maximize your number of canvases to make your combos. You’ll see.
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Prep

  • Thinly slice veggies or finely dice whole pieces of meat such as chicken breast or pork tenderloin. Thinly sliced or finely diced ingredients cook better in quesadillas.
  • Shred your various cheeses and, depending on how compatible the flavors of the cheese, either keep them seperate or blend them. For examle, jack, cheddar, and mozzerella can be blended. Gouda usually can’t pair unless you have another nutty or smokey cheese like gruyere left over also. If you really want to up the diversity of your flights, don’t combine cheeses.
  • Let the crazy begin! I just go with flavors and pairings that I know to go well together based on what I have to work with. Cheddar, ham, and tomato slices. Pepper jack, turkey, and avocado slices. Cream cheese with tomato and olives. Jack with shredded chicken, diced onion, and cilantro. If I have nutty or smokey cheeses to use up, I add thin apple slices and some sauteed onions. Some cheeses pair well with pesto or berry jams, and of course if you have left overs from spaghetti night, just do a thin smear of tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, and olives.
  • To cook the quesadillas, just put your pan over a medium-low flame and add a litte EVOO. Place the tortilla into the pan and rub around to coat. If using sauce, spreads or jams, spread that first. Then, sprinkle the cheese and then layer meat and then veggies. I let the cheese melt a little and then fold the tortilla over. You just want to cook each side to lightly brown and get the cheese gooey.
  • Repeat with various combos, based on your ingredients. I generally end up with quite a variety, even in I just omit an ingredient here or there or sub another. The goal is to make a flight, so they shouldn’t all taste just the same.
  • Serve with dips, lime or lemon wedges, or extra tomato slices dusted with salt and pepper. A little side salad if you have it handy.

Note: These guys get cold fast, so I am basically a short order cook. Serve as batches are ready and encourage your peeps to dig in. As chef, you should be nomming as you cook. For this reason, I don’t make the same quesadilla twice in a row or your batches won’t be ‘flights.’

Dips to serve with my flights?

I am a dips, salsas, and sauces freak. As far as I am concerned, the food I eat is just a vehicle for the real flavor payload. So why not offer some with your quesadilla flight? Quick prep or left over salsa is obvious, but here are a few others I whip up.

Guac and Spiced Sour Cream

No Chiles On-Hand Guacamole Dip

Ingredients

  • 2-3 very ripe avocados, cubed
  • 1 or 2 small, ripe tomatos, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 to 3 fresh garlic cloves, roughly diced
  • Fresh squeezed juice from 1 to 1 1/2 limes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Ground cayenne, to taste
  • Cilantro, ripped or roughly chopped

Prep

  • With a fork, mash and stir the avocado. You can leave it a little chunky; it’ll get smooth as you mix in your spices.
  • Fold in the tomato, onion, diced garlic and stir.
  • Squeeze in the lime juice and stir.
  • Add in about 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/8 tsp black pepper. Stir and taste.
  • Add in a few shakes of cayenne. Stir and taste.
  • If your quac seems bland, you can add in a little more salt or cayenne, but don’t go to crazy. Ground spices are more potent than freshly chopped peppers so the taste changes quickly.
  • Cover with plastic or seal with a lid if you prepped in tupperware. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or so. Perfect to prep this right before you start the quesadillas. Ground spices need way less time to soak and marinate than fresh ingredients.
  • When you serve, sprinkle a little cilantro on top. It’s more colorful and less overpowering this way than when you mix in with the other spices to marinate.

Spiced Sour Cream Dip

  • When you are ready to serve the first batch of quesadillas, add a healthy dollop of sour cream to each plate. Dust each with black and/or cayenne pepper.
  • Dash some olive oil into your hot pan and pop a handful of diced onions in there. Stir and lightly sauté.
  • Add a tablespoon of the onions to each dollop of sour cream and serve.

I don’t know about you, but at this point, I am ready to ~Nom On.

Mango-Habanero Salsa

Ah, the mango-habanero marriage. Bright, fresh heat that bursts through your mouth and nose like the sun warms your skin when you turn your face up to it. Yeah; yeah I am being poetic because what’s happening when you mix orange habenero peppers with ripe mango is f**king amazing. Throw in some pineapple, cilantro, lime juice, and red onion….dear god.

So, how do you get that action? I love a good salsa, so let’s start there.

Mango-Habanero Salsa

Mango-Habanero Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 habanero peppers, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1 small, ripe mango, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped, red onion
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Salt to taste

Prep

  • Set out your blender or food processor and add all of the ingredients to it.
  • Depending on how you like your salsa (chunky or smooth) process it until you are happy with the texture.
  • Transfer to a bowl or tupperware and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Ok, I have salsa, so now what?

Well, my friend, I will list the pairings in order of raddness with this salsa.

  • Shrimp
  • White, mild fish
  • Shredded chicken
  • Shredded pork
  • Diced chicken
  • Diced pork

You can also just scoop it up with chips and make the magic happen that way.

But what would be the ideal recipe for this?

Pineapple and Shrimp Street Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh shrimp – de-shelled and tails removed
  • 1 8oz can diced pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 medium vadalia or other sweet onion, chopped into large chunks
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Extra virgin olive oil or Grapeseed oil
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Salt and pepper

Prep

  • You can either use a standard outdoor grill, an electric grill, or a cast iron stove top grill, depending on what you have available.
  • Brush oil all over your ingredients, except cilantro. Season with a dusting of salt, and then pepper.
  • With a paper towel, rub a little oil on your grill space if you are using an electric or cast iron stove top grill.
  • Once your grill is hot, spread your ingredients, except cilantro, on the grill and cook for approximately 3 minutes per side. The goal is to lightly char the veggies and cook the shrimp until it is translucent.
  • While your fillings are cooking, heat up your tortillas over an open burner on your stove. Store them in a tortilla warmer until you are finished heating them all up.

Pineapple and Shrimp Skewers

  • The prep is almost identical, but for ingredients, buy pineapple rings and chop them in larger chunks, in some cherry tomatoes, and cut the sweet onion into large chunks.
  • Thread on a wood skewer soaked in water or a metal skewer and brush with olive oil. You can sprinkle salt and pepper, too, if you like.
  • Heat on your grill for about 3 minutes per side to char the veggies and get the shrimp translucent.

If you want a really light dish, just serve each person two tacos (or skewers) with the salsa spread over them and sprinkled with cilantro. If you need some starch to keep you full, I recommend a plain rice, like basmati, with a little butter and salt. You have so much flavor, just don’t make a starchy side with loads of spice to compete with your main course.

~Nom On

Chicken Street Tacos

It’s 7 am and you are standing in front of the fridge, feeling underwhelmed about your lunch options. Left overs? Meh; too much gravy. Sam’ich? Meh; too boring. That sad looking prepackaged salad you stock for lunches? Meh; you’re always still hungry after. Cup o’noodles? Eww; icky, bloated, sodium-belly. What you need is something you can make quickly, cheaply, is fairly healthy, and well, good enough to eat on purpose!

Enter the street taco. Traditionally it’s a taco el carbon, which means grilled over an open coal flame, but lots of food trucks and Mexican caterers sell these without the fuss of flame grilling. I’ll show you how to make this (which is really a no-brainer) but in a way that will have you out the door in 10 minutes with a lunch that packs up well, comes together when it’s time to eat so it tastes freshly prepped, and will save you from carrying around sad taste buds all afternoon. You’re welcome.

Chicken Street Taco

Chicken Street Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 4-oz frozen, skinless chicken breast. (*Shoe string alert: Frozen chicken breasts are sold in 5-pound bags that you keep in your freezer for 10-15 bucks. You just take out however many breasts you want to use for a meal and you can pop them straight into the oven to bake. Its very economical, convenient, and waste-reducing.)
  • 3-5 corn tortillas
  • 1 small, white onion
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • Salsa (*Don’t be cheap or lazy alert: Make your own salsa in advance, or if you like to buy pre-made salsa, get the good stuff. This is the main garnish and makes a big difference for this meal.)

Prep:

  • Either the night before, or in the morning, pop the chicken breast in the oven and let it bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Use a digital thermometer to check the temp. At 160 degrees Fahrenheit, pull the chicken out and let it rest. Don’t cook to 165 degrees or it will be rubbery and best donated to a clown.
  • When the chicken is ready, dice the small onion and chicken. If you have the time, I think shredded chicken tastes a little better, but dicing is traditional and faster.
  • Roughly chop or tear some cilantro. I like lots, but go with how much based on what tastes good to you.
  • Combine all the ingredients into a tupperware and seal.
  • Over an open flame, lightly grill your corn tortillas. I like mine with just a few minor char spots, but don’t over do it. You want the tortilla to stay soft and pliable.
  • When your stack of tortillas is done, roll them loosely and pop into a plastic sandwich bag. The steam will keep them soft.
  • Put your salsa into a small, separate container, or if you are using a taco sauce, just remember to bring it.

When you are ready to eat, you really don’t need to re-heat anything. Just sprinkle the mixture into each tortilla, add your salsa or sauce, and keep your moans of pleasure down so you don’t get any co-workers asking for sharzies.

~ Nom on