That's Charlie, the taco dog, holding three delicious Chipotle Chicken Salad Tacos. It's Cinco de Mayo and my original intent was to make enchiladas. But, I make them once a week, so that's hardly a special dish for us. Instead, I made this taco recipe from Rick Bayless. The salad itself is very easy to make. I used a store bought rotisserie chicken and assembled the salad in less than 10 minutes. That left me with enough time to make my own corn tortillas from scratch. I wish this dish had an unusual herb for Weekend Herb Blogging, but it's cilantro....again. In the past couple of weeks some very unusual herbs have been featured in this weekend event created by Kalyn. Go over to her site and see what the other herb bloggers have cooked up. But, do take the time to consider this slightly different take on tacos. They're delicious. Everyone enjoyed them immensely.
It's been quite a long time since I made my own tortillas, but it was easier than I remembered. I made the tortillas for this recipe because the rather flimsy corn tortillas sold in my grocery store would fall apart wrapped around the salad. My tortillas turned out just right--tender, but strong and pliable, perfect for holding the tangy salad. The only hard part making them was locating the tortilla press. Of course, it was in the most inconvenient place, pushed back into a corner of a cabinet, covered with cake pans that I rarely use. I had to get down on my hands and knees and practically climb into the cabinet to dig the press out.
Once I had the press, it was quite easy to make them. You mix the masa harina with water and form balls of dough the size of walnuts and place them on the press, which is covered with a small square of plastic
You put a second sheet of the plastic on top of the dough ball and press down several times, rotating the circle. And it's done. You carefully peel off the plastic and cook them on a hot skillet for about a minute.
If you don't want to make your own tortillas and the store bought varieties are thin and delicate, try stacking two tortillas together and use them to hold the filling for each taco. The tortillas are served hot, wrapped around the room temperature salad. All the contrasting flavors, temperatures, and textures make this a special experience.
I piled the salad into a large bowl and served the hot tortillas separately, so that people could make their own tacos. And if the tortillas are too much of an issue, the salad is good enough to eat without them.
Chipotle Chicken Salad Tacos (Rick Bayless)
Makes about 4 cups, filling 12 to 16 tacos
Serving 4 as a casual meal
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
(no need to use your very best balsamico here)
1/3 cup olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, finely chopped
1/2 small head Napa cabbage,
thinly sliced (about 2-1/2 cups)
1 large carrot, peeled and
chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1-1/2 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken,
preferably grilled, roasted or rotisserie chicken
1 large ripe avocado, peeled,
pitted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup coarsely grated Mexican queso añejo
or other dry grating cheese, such as Romano or Parmesan
12 to 16 warm, fresh corn tortillas
1. The Filling:
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and chipotles. Season generously with salt, usually about a generous 1/4 teaspoon. Add the cabbage, carrot, onion, cilantro and chicken. Toss everything together and let stand for 15 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt if necessary.
2. Finishing The Dish: Scoop the filling into a wide shallow serving bowl, dot with the cubed avocado and dust generously with the cheese. Set on the table with the warm tortillas, and you're ready for some great roll-them-yourself tacos.
Working Ahead: The chicken filling is best eaten the day it is made, though it will keep for several hours in the refrigerator.
I N G R E D I E N T S
2 cups masa harina
pinch of salt
1 cup warm water
Makes: 12- 6 inch tortillas
I N S T R U C T I O N S
1 Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms into a soft dough. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if it needs more.
2 Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface such as a cutting board or your counter top. Knead the dough for about 3 to 4 minutes until it becomes smooth and no longer sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about an hour. (I've made it without the hour wait--and they tasted good.)
3 Divide the tortilla dough into 12 equal size pieces. Keep the dough covered as you work. Take one piece at a time and roll it between your hands to form a ball.
4 Open the tortilla press and lay a piece of plastic on the bottom of the press, heavier plastic cut from a ziploc bag works best. Sit the ball of dough on the plastic wrap, place a second piece of plastic on top of the ball, and flatten the dough by pressing down on it with the palm of your hand.
5 Close the press and press down firmly a few times, rotating the circle until the tortilla is flattened. You can control how thin you want it to be.
6 Pick up the tortilla in your hand and carefully peel off the top piece of plastic. Flip the tortilla to the other hand, plastic side up and remove the second piece of plastic. Carefully slide the tortilla onto a medium-high ungreased skillet and cook for 20 seconds on one side and around 45 seconds on the other side. As you finish each tortilla, place it in a plate lined with a loth. Cover the tortillas with another cloth as you are cooking and stacking them. The heat of the finished tortillas under the cloth will continue the cooking process.
My favorite way to reheat tortillas. Wet a cloth and wring it out. Place up to a dozen corn tortillas on the cloth and fold the cloth around the tortillas. Place them on a plate and put the bundle in a microwave. Heat this for around 2 minutes. Uncover to see if the tortillas are hot. If not heat another minute. When done, they will stay hot inside this cloth bundle for at least 10-15 minutes.