Last week I was at Barnes and Noble looking for a recipe for something called Tali Sauce. I discovered the Tali Sauce on a bowl of deliciousness from a food cart in Portland called The Whole Bowl. More to come on that eating our way through Portland in 1 night and 2 day trip !! Oh and by the way if you have a recipe for this incredible garlicky/lemon sauce let me know. But I digress,back to the search. I was having no luck and I was starting to think that the sauce didn't exist.
I had been searching through Vegetarian, Asian, Japanese, Chinese and Mediterranean type cook books with no success. So I scooted myself over to the Mexican food cookbooks and Rick Bayless fell into my lap. Now I have watched him on Top Chef Masters and was very happy that he won-I love his true passion for food and he just seems like a really nice person.
"Mexican Everyday" and pulled it off the shelves and started paging through it. I must confess that the first thing I do when looking at cookbooks is quickly thumb through for the photography-if the photography doesn't jump out at me the book usually gets placed back on the shelves. I know it's a very shallow way to buy a cookbook but I'm a visual person ! I do own quite a few books without tons of pictures so I'm not totally and 100 percent shallow when it comes to buying them !! Chef Bayless's cookbook made want to tear the pages out and start eating them. I mean really-there was Roasted Garlic Dressing with Green Chile, Chipotle Beef Tacos with Caramelized Onions, Crusty Black Bean-Chorizo Subs,Grilled Roadside Whole Chicken with Knob Onions- the list is endless is and delicious. I wanted something quick that night since I had spent so much time at the bookstore . There it was on pg 198 Green Chile Chicken Soft Tacos. If I never make anything else from this book -this recipe was worth it.
If you love Mexican Food ( and I don't mean that stuff you get at those drive thrus ) run out and buy this cookbook. You won't be disappointed. The smells in my kitchen the day I made this put me on beach in Mexico somewhere with a cold cerveza and a plate of these tacos with side of rice and beans-heaven !
For those of you who don't have the book I found the recipe on line at Chow.com . Try it and let me know what you think.
Green Chile Chicken Soft Tacos
Tacos de Pollo al Chile Poblano -adapted from Chow.com
2 large fresh poblano chiles
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil ( I used Spanish Olive Oil)
1 large white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick ( definitely use the white onion for the authentic flavors you are striving for)
1 pound (3 medium-large halves) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice-I doubled the lime juice and garlic cloves
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
12 warm corn tortillas, store-bought or homemade
About 3/4 cup roasted tomatillo salsa or guacamole, or bottled salsa or hot sauce, for serving-Chef Bayless recommends his Roasted Tomatillo Salsa or Guacamole.
I found his recipe for the salsa at Kalamazoo Gourmet along with his Guacamole recipe. Since I was rushed this night I opted for my go to tomatillo salsa and pico de gallo from Metropolitan Market-both made fresh daily-love that store !
Roast the poblanos over an open flame or 4 inches below a broiler, turning regularly until blistered and blackened all over, about 5 minutes for an open flame, 10 minutes for the broiler. Place in bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let cool until handle able.
Turn on (or adjust) the oven to its lowest setting. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a very large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden but still crunchy, 4 to 5 minutes. Scoop into a heatproof serving bowl, leaving as much oil as possible in the skillet, and slide into the oven. Set the skillet aside.
Rub the blackened skin off the chiles and pull out the stems and seed pods. Rinse the chiles to remove bits of skin and seeds. Cut into 1/4-inch strips and stir into the onions. Taste and season with salt, usually a generous 1 teaspoon. Return to the oven.
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper.
Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, lay in the chicken breasts. Brown on one side, about 5 minutes, then flip and finish cooking on the other side, about 4 minutes more. When the meat is done, add the lime juice and garlic ( I added half of my lime juice garlic mix )to the skillet. Turn the chicken in the lime mixture for a minute or so, until the juice has reduced to a glaze and coats the chicken.
Cut the chicken breasts into 1/4-inch strips ( at this point I place them back in the hot frying pan and added the other half of the lime juice and garlic mix and finished de glazing the pan )and toss with the onion-poblano mixture. Taste and season with additional salt if you think necessary. Serve with the warm tortillas and salsa, guacamole or hot sauce for making soft tacos.
Notes or Riffs from Chef Bayless:
A Couple of Riffs on Chicken Tacos: Grilling the chicken breasts is a delicious alternative to pan-searing them, but you’ll miss the lime-garlic glaze. To solve that problem, I suggest you add the lime juice and garlic to the onions when they’re browned, cooking until the liquid has reduced to a glaze. (You may want to have a little extra lime and garlic for marinating the chicken breasts before grilling.) If chicken tenders are more easily available than the breasts, use them; cooking time will be shorter. Beef skirt or flank steak works well here too. And, of course, any of the large fleshy chiles (from Anaheims to red bell peppers) can stand in for the poblanos.
Brining for Even Better Chicken: At Frontera Grill, we use free-range chicken breasts, which might taste tough to some of our guests if we did not brine them. (Besides promoting tenderness, brining can help make ordinary grocery-store chicken breasts moister and more flavorful too.) To brine 4 chicken breasts (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds total), mix together 2 cups water, 3 tablespoons Morton kosher salt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl. Slip in the chicken breasts, cover and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the brine and dry on paper towels; the chicken breasts are ready to use.
PS. Chef Bayless's website has delicious recipe after recipe listed on it until you can get your hands on his cookbooks ! And apparently great minds do really think alike-if you have a taste for beef head over to A Chow Life for her "riff " on Chef Bayless's Shredded Beef Tacos !