Q&A: Tacos de Pollo

Tinga

FB Friend, Nichole, asks…

Hi Perry! Looking for a really good way to make shredded chicken for tacos/burritos… I have a stove, oven, and crockpot… sadly no smoker or grill. Any helpful hints? Thank you in advance!

Chef Perry:

Nichole…Absolutely!

I LOVE Tacos de Pollo (though in all fairness, I love ALL street tacos!) 😉

  • #1: Step away from the crock-pot! 😉
  • Use skin-on, bone in chicken thighs, or hindquarters. Never use breasts for shredding, it’s too dry, even when brined, for this recipe. (Plus, they don’t add much plavor to the party.)
  • Pat your chicken dry with paper towels, sprinkle both sides with sea-salt, and let them rest on a rack, at room temp, 20-30 minutes to dry the skin.
  • Pre-heat oven to 325F
  • Combine 1-2 cups hot chicken stock (depending on how much chicken) with 2 tsp New Mexico chili powder, 2 tsp ground Cumin, 1 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp garic powder, 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, and the juice of 1 lime*. Let cool. You want enough broth to come about 1/2 way up the sides on the thighs
  • Coat a baking dish with pure pork lard (preferred) or butter.
  • Add stock to baking dish, the chicken, skin side up.
  • Roast, uncovered, 45-60 minutes, until the skin is crisp and golden, and the meat is tender.
  • Let chicken rest 20-30 minutes (in stock), before chopping the skin, and shredding the meat, add the meat back to the stock to stay warm, set the chopped skin aside.

*If you have a favorite salsa (but not some nasty bottled stuff, lol) you can skip the stock seasonings, and just add 1/2-1 cup of salsa (I liker Verde) to the stock.

Per Taco:

  • 2 small corn tortillas (I also like a 50/50 flour-corn tortilla), toasted on the grill or in a dry skillet.
  • Fresh white onion, diced
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Pickled jalapeño slices (opt)
  • Lime wedges, and more salsa on the side (or, reduce the pan drippings for sauce.)

I also like “Tinga” style tacos (chicken with peppers and onions)…

Thin slice a couple of red and yellow bell peppers, and a white onion.

Add these to the chicken stock in the baking dish, around the thighs..

Optional: For REALLY next-level flavor, first blister your whole peppers on the grill, or under the broiler, until just blackened on all side.

IMMEDIATELY put the peppers in container with a sealed top, or heavy gallon zip, and let rest 15-20 minutes to steam. Then, scrape off “most” of the blackened skin from the outside, and the seeds and membranes from the insider. Chop the remaining pepper, and toss with cooked chicken.

Here’s a video.

PEPPERS

  • No heat: Red/Yellow/Orange Bell
  • Very Mild: Anaheim, Poblano
  • Warm: Hatch (my favorite)
  • Hot: Serrano, Cayenne
  • Stupid: Habañero, Scotch Bonnet

Provecho!

~Chef Perry

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