We are big grilling fans here at FoodieLawyer, and in Texas you can easily grill 12 months out of the year. But not everyone has year-round grilling weather, or the space for a full-size outdoor grill, in which case the grill pan can often be an acceptable substitute. For example, you can use a grill pan on the stove to cook chicken tenders flavored with Tex-Mex spices, served on flour tortillas with cheese and a quick pico de gallo.
We like to add homemade pico de gallo (Spanish for “Rooster’s Beak,” according to Wikipedia) to our chicken tacos. It is easy to make and adds a fresh and spicy-as-you-want element to many dishes. In a small bowl, add chopped tomatoes, jalapeno and red onion.
Chopped up cilantro is optional for the pico de gallo. We like it, but not everyone does.
Add some fresh lime juice and salt & pepper, give it a good stir, and rest the pico in the fridge so the flavors all come together while you prepare the tacos.
The chicken is seasoned with some simple Tex-Mex classic flavors — ground cumin, chile powder and granulated garlic — all of which should be available at your local grocery store.
You can use any type of chicken for tacos, but on this night we used boneless, skinless chicken tenders. The only real preparation for this type of chicken is to remove the white strip of tendon, found at the fat end of the chicken tender.
Cut this off, because it is not appetizing after it’s been cooked.
The grill pan should be very hot before you add chicken. Preheat the pan over medium high heat for a few minutes while seasoning the chicken. You may want to spray the pan with a non-stick spray once the pan is hot, but before adding the chicken.
Add a few teaspoons of vegetable oil to the spices, then brush the mixture over both sides of the chicken.
After adding the chicken to the pan, don’t touch it until it’s ready to turn over, and you should only turn it once. You can tell the chicken is ready to turn over when most of the edges begin to turn white, usually after 3 minutes or so.
After turning the chicken, cook it for another 3 minutes, or until the center of the chicken is no longer pink.
We are lucky enough to have a grocery store near our house that makes fresh flour tortillas almost daily. Fresh flour tortillas always taste better.
We used lowfat sharp cheddar cheese on our tacos.
We decided on an additional step for our chicken tacos — heating the filled tortillas in a hot cast-iron skillet. This step browns the tortillas a bit (fresh flour tortillas sometimes benefit from a little extra browning) and melts the cheese nicely.
Heating up the filled chicken and cheese tacos is fast, easy and escalates this simple dish to a new level. If your cast iron skillet is well-seasoned, you don’t even need to add any butter or oil before heating the tacos.
We plated the chicken tacos with a healthy dose of the fresh pico de gallo and some sour cream dusted with chile powder.
You can also serve them with the pico already inside the taco. Yum!