Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Yucatan Chicken

You know when you have that one "thing" that you love - so everyone buys you gifts themed around it? That's me and tacos. I'm not complaining, because this Christmas I had the good fortune of getting a bunch of Mexican cookbooks - including Tacos by Mark Miller. I was already pretty familiar with some of his recipes and had my own way of doing them, but I came across Yucatan Chicken and thought it might be interesting to adapt. We tend to lump "Mexican Food" into one overarching category, but there are actually many different regional styles - all the better for me to crib recipes from! Yucatan is best known for Lime Soup and Pibil (which I've previously made here). They often use a bright red spice paste called Achiote - which I found at my specialty grocery store and stained my counter with.

So this recipe is close to a Pollo Pibil, with a few adjustments to ratchet up the full bodied spiciness. It's hot, but not in a "ouch it burns, why are you doing this to me?" way - more like a nice warm feeling in your belly. I topped it with a xnipec salsa that goes easy on the habaneros - so it's almost more of a pico de gallo. 

It looks like a murder scene, but it's just tacos.

Yucatan Chicken Recipe

Serves: 10 tacos              Prep Time: 1.5+ hours            Cook Time: 15 min

2 chicken breasts
1 tbsp achiote paste
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp allspice
4 cloves garlic
2 habanero peppers
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 red onion

Xnipec Fresca

1/2 red onion
1 large tomato
1/4 cup cilantro
1 habanero pepper
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp lime juice
salt to taste

Corn tortillas

Marinade It

Pre-heat the oven to broil. Place the habanero peppers and garlic cloves on a baking sheet. Place under 3-4 inches under the broiler and cook for about 4 minutes, turning the peppers and garlic when they blacken. Remove and cool. Combine all ingredients except chicken and onion into a blender and puree. Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes and toss with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1-24 hours (the longer the better).

Cook It

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp of oil. Chop onion into long, thin strips. Cook onions in oil until translucent/brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for 10-15 minutes, ensuring chicken is cooked through.

Top It

Dice onion, tomato, cilantro and habanero pepper. Combine in a bowl and toss with orange juice, lime juice and salt. Throw this Xnipec-style salsa onto a warm corn tortilla with a couple spoonfuls of chicken and onion.

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