Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

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A question I am asked quite often is: Where did you learn to cook? To be honest, I never learned to cook anywhere in particular. When I got out of college and realized it was expensive to be a big kid in the real world, I started being smarter about my grocery shopping. I quickly realized that fresh meat and produce were often much cheaper that processed foods and eating out. So, one day I picked out a recipe and just went for it. These Lime & Cilantro Chicken Tacos were one of the first “difficult” recipes I made. I say “difficult” because now that I know my way around the kitchen, it is really very easy to prepare. I wouldn’t tell you to make this on a weeknight after work because there is a little food prep involved, but on a weekend or evening when you have a little more time. On top of that, my husband asks for these tacos time and time again. It is, without a doubt, in our top 5 favorite meals.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos
Serves 4 to 6

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced chipotle chili in adobo sauce
pinch of kosher salt
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Chicken Taco Filling
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce

Taco Toppings
12 taco shells
1/2 head romaine lettuce, shredded crosswise
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

1. To make the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, in a blender, combine the vinegar, lime juice, honey, garlic, chili, and salt and process until smooth. With the machine running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream to form an emulsion. Add the cilantro and process until the vinaigrette is deep green with small flecks of cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then set aside.
2. To make the Chicken Taco Filling, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the chicken, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring and breaking up any chunks with a spatula, until the chicken shows no sign of pink, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the lime juice and soy sauce and cook until they are almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
3. To assemble the tacos, divide the chicken mixture evenly among the taco shells. Top with the lettuce and drizzle each taco with about 1 Tbsp of the vinaigrette. Add a scattering of tomato and yellow pepper, and garnish with some of the cheese and a cilantro sprig. Serve immediately, and pass the remaining vinaigrette at the table.

*Original recipe from Nordstrom Flavors Cookbook by Chef Michael Northern

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