Easy Weeknight Chicken Tacos.
Are you mourning the continued nonexistence of the taco emoji?
I mean, what the heck? How do the emoji people think that we don’t need a taco emoji? The taco emoji HAS to be the most requested emoji. Right? Ugh. Whatever.
Real or cartooned tacos, let’s talk about these ones. GUYS.
I cannot even count the number of times we have eaten these exact tacos in the last few weeks.
Actually wait. Yes I can.
At least 16. Yep – SIXTEEN. I say that because Max is almost 18 weeks now and we have had these tacos at least once a week since right around Christmas, soon after he was born.
We are slightly obsessed.
Also, I realize I should stop saying that word “obsessed.” It’s so over. We’re all over it. I think someone told me to stop saying it in HIGH SCHOOL.
Clearly I’m not over that.
Anyhoo. Let me tell you things.
This is what we love about these, in no particular order (ooh we fancy today):
…The chicken thighs. I highly, highly, highly suggest you try this with the boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I know I’ve been ranting and raving about them forever now, but they make such a huge difference here. This chicken is done in 30 minutes: you sear it, release some of the fat and juices, then roast it and shred it with spices. Toss is back with the juice and OMG – super moist and wonderful.
…They taste fantastically old school but also kind of new school (which is really old, anyway) authentic, too. And when I say that, I mean they have that comfort food feel – think ground beef tacos made with an old el paso seasoning packet (which is basically cumin, cumin, cayenne and – you guessed it – cumin) and mixed with yellow cheddar and iceberg lettuce. You know? Please tell me you had this growing up. My mom still makes it once a week these days.
These tacos have a bit of that flavor, what with our own seasoning spices and all – but also have a little trendy taco truck taste too. The quick pico de gallo, crumbled queso freso and crema contribute to that.
…They are ridiculously customizable. Duh.
…They don’t come out of the crock pot. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no stranger to the slow cooker. But sometimes I forget, I don’t prep my stuff in time to make a crockpot meal, and occasionally I just find that recipes in a slow cooker taste… like… a slow cooker. Do you get me? This method keeps the chicken flavorful and moist but almost a little crispy – sort of like carnitas. Now with that being said, if you want to do the crockpot? Do the crockpot. Toss in the chicken, all the spices and maybe ¼ cup of chicken stock. Boom. You’re done.
Other mini details? Use YOUR favorite tortillas. I go back and forth. Sometimes I love corn. I usually prefer flour. Eddie always wants flour. Warm them up, toast them, toss them in the oven for a few minutes right before the chicken is finished or even hold them over the gas burners on your stovetop with kitchen tongs. Who does that?
I’ve been doing a weird thing with my avocado and just eating it on the side. Or putting half on my tacos and keep half on the side. LOVE it.
So does this make sense? Do you get the whole these-sort-of-seem-new-and-tasty-but-also-old-and-tasty thing? I find it to be the perfect balance in my tex-mex loving mind. Especially during this very new and wacky season of my life where I’ve been craving all things nostalgic but still want things to taste somewhat fresh and not like a casserole from 1987.
The most important thing ever.
I can be a leftover snob. These? They are the perfect leftovers. You can make a quick salad, you can make a quesadilla, you can make a tostado or heck – just another taco night. But most importantly, you can make quick, kick ass OVEN NACHOS. Throw the chicken on top with lots of cheese and whatever you have in the fridge.
Ooooh I’m dying. I need a nacho immediately. Microwave 90s nachos? Maybe. Don’t judge. Just…
Give me a nacho.
Easy Weeknight Chicken Tacos
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
8 to 12 (4-inch) tortillas, flour or corn - your preference!
4 ounces queso fresco cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, sliced
extra limes for garnish
quick chipotle lime crema
3 tablespoons greek yogurt
3/4 cup half and half
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
juice of half a lime
zest of half a lime
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the skillet and once it's hot, add in the chicken. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Cover the skillet and place it in the oven, roasting for 20 minutes. In a bowl, combine the cumin, paprika, chili powders, garlic powder and onion power in a bowl. Set aside.
While the chicken is cooking, combine the diced onion, tomatoes and cilantro in a bowl with the juice of the lime. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, half and half, adobo, lime juice and zest and salt, whisking well to combine. Set aside.
As soon as the chicken is finished cooking, add it to the bowl of your electric mixer, or a bowl that you can use a hand mixer with. If you used the chicken thighs, there will be juices in the pan - leave them in the pan and do not discard them because we will use them! Turn the mixer on to low speed for a few seconds to break up the chicken. Add in the spices that you mixer before and mix the chicken on low speed for a full minute or two to completely shred it and mixx with the spices. Transfer the spiced chicken back to the pan with the juices and toss it well, incorporating the juice. This is how the chicken will stay moist (no - we can't use another word)!
To assemble the tacos, place the chicken in a tortilla and top with the quick salsa, the crumbled cheese and a drizzle of the crema. Serve with avocado on the side or on top and a fresh squeeze of lime.
(I totally ate the nachos.)