I have hesitated to post a recipe for any Mexican dish since we started Too Many Chefs, simply because although I know what I like, I also know that I have no expertise in Mexican cuisine other than eating in many cheap Mexican restaurants in Chicago. (We won't even discuss Parisian restaurants with so-called Mexican cuisine. If Chicago is some 1000 miles from the border, Paris is a few centuries away.) But every once in a while you make a dinner and think: that was right, that was exactly what I wanted and it worked. Each time I make my version of Mexican food it varies slightly based on what I have in the cupboard, my mood and what fresh food is in season. This time, I was constrained by the Eat Local Challenge and (perhaps this shouldn't surprise me) the fact that I stuck to seasonal ingredients meant that the result was delicious.
Despite the store-bought tortillas. (I promise, Barrett, I will make use of the masa you brought me at such great effort from Chicago. Soon.) The tortillas were already in my refrigerator, by the way, and thus exempt from the local rule.
One problem I usually have with Mexican food is that with all the various ingredients and factoring in how much of each I'll need. This time I used up everything and had one tortilla left over. For me that's pretty darn good.
Meg's Amazing Chicken Tacos (serves two generously with three large tacos each)
2 boneless chicken breasts
1 Tbs spicy olive oil*
2 Tbs oil (I used olive, but corn oil would work even better)
1 Tbs cumin
1 tsp piment d'espelette or other spicy pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup canned sweet corn
1 small potato
2 small tomatoes
2-3 small white onions
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 tsp spicy olive oil
1 tbs lime juice
1/4 cup fresh coriander/cilantro
1 cup lettuce, shredded
1 1/2 cup cheese (I used a mix of sharp Cheddar and Tomme, because it's what I had to hand)
Sour cream or creme fraiche to taste
6 large corn tortillas
olive oil or corn oil to fry tortillas
Chop the potato in small cubes. While you are chopping them, heat the tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of non-spicy oil in a frying pan. Add the potatoes. While they are sizzling, cut up the chicken in small cubes. Add the chicken and let it brown well on one side before turning them (and the potatoes). While the chicken and potaotes are cooking, chop the tomatoes and onions finely and mix in a bowl. Mince the garlic and add to the bowl. Add the lime juice and chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) and toss to mix.
Keep tossing the meat and potatoes while you shred the lettuce and grate the cheese.
Add the corn, ground cumin and pepper powder to the chicken and potatoes. Add half the salt and after a few minutes taste. You will probably need the full teaspoon (and maybe more) but taste before adding it all. Add a quarter of a cup (a generous splash) of water to the pan and cover. Lower the heat.
Heat some oil in another frying pan to cook the tortillas. When it is nice and hot (if it starts smoking add the tortillas FAST and lower the heat slightly - if you add a tortilla and it doesn't sizzle it probably isn't quite hot enough). Fry for about 30 seconds on one side and then flip over, folding the tortilla in half. Cook for another minute or so and then flip over to cook the other half of the second side.
Drain the tortilla, standing up if possible like an upside-down U, on paper towels. I found that draping paper towels and the taco over a spice bottle worked very well. Fill with one sixth of each of the fillings - tomato and onion mix, cheese, meat and a smear of creme fraiche or sour cream. If you have a spice-loving spouse you can also throw a chopped jalepeno in too.
Three was the perfect number, filling but not making you groan afterwards. I had exactly the right amount of each element, both in terms of the flavour in my mouth and the amount left in the bowls when I was done (none).
* Spicy olive oil can be made by pouring a cup or so of dried peppers in a clean bottle and adding olive oil. Further instructions here.