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Shredded Chicken Tacos

2012 March 6
by Mrs. FoodieLawyer

If you like chicken tacos even just a little bit, we’re going to have to insist that you make these tacos, adapted from this recipe.  While we always respect people’s varying palates and food preferences, we can’t say enough good things about these tacos and really want everyone to try them.  If we could invite you all over for dinner and make them for you, we would.  They’re that good.  They’re also pretty easy to make — just simmer a couple of chicken breasts in a sauce made with tomato sauce, white vinegar, garlic, a chipotle pepper, ancho chile powder, ground cumin, oregano and sugar.  Then shred the chicken, add it back to the sauce, and fill a couple of tortillas with the tender, spicy and tangy chicken mixture.  Garnish with chopped white onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime, and enjoy your new favorite tacos!


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Combine the tomato sauce, vinegar, minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, chopped chipotle pepper and sugar and mix it all together to make the sauce.

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Cut the chicken breasts in half and season them with salt and pepper.  Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat and cook the chicken, turning once, until golden brown on both sides — about 5 minutes.  This is one of the few times we actually prefer using chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs.  The white meat holds up a little better than thighs would, yet still stays moist from cooking in the sauce on low.  Using bone-in chicken breasts (instead of bone-less) also keeps the chicken from drying out, and cooking them with the bone adds flavor.  If the bone-in chicken breasts have skin on them, remove the skin prior to browning the chicken in order to cut back on excess fat/grease in the final dish.  (Besides, braising chicken with the skin on results in rubbery/slimy skin when the chicken is done, rather than crispy/delicious skin that results from roasting the chicken.)

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Off the heat, remove all but about a tablespoon of oil/chicken juice from the pot.  (A handy way to do this is to line a small bowl or spoon rest with foil, then spoon the excess grease into the foil.  Once the grease cools, just wrap up the foil and throw it away.)

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Add the tomato sauce mixture to the pot and bring it to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through (internal temperature reaches 165 degrees) — about 45-60 minutes.

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While the chicken cooks, turn each breast piece over a couple of times and periodically spoon the sauce over the top of the chicken.

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When the chicken is done, remove it from the sauce to a cutting board.  Cut the chicken away from the bones and shred the chicken using 2 forks (place the tines of the forks together on pieces of chicken, then pull the forks apart across the chicken.)  Season the chicken with salt.

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Place the shredded chicken back in the sauce, mix it all together and cook over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens and begins to carmelize — about 10-15 more minutes.

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Prepare the garnishes — finely chopped onion and cilantro and wedges of lime.

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Serve the shredded chicken and sauce on warmed corn tortillas (we prefer white corn tortillas and warm them for about a minute per side in a dry cast iron skillet over medium-low heat), then garnish.  The onion adds a nice bit of crunch and the cilantro and lime add fresh flavor.  We absolutely love these tacos — even more than the similar version at one of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurants.  So if you enjoy better-than-restaurant-quality meals at home, you owe it to yourself to make these tacos.  We insist.

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 14 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons white distilled vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 chipotle pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed and cut in half
  • 4-6 white corn tortillas

For garnish:

  • ⅓ cup finely chopped white onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the tomato sauce, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, chipotle pepper and sugar and mix it all together.
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a pot.  Cut the chicken breasts in half (remove the skin if there is any), season with salt and pepper, then cook the chicken in the pot until lightly browned on both sides — about 5 minutes.  Off the heat, remove all but about 1 tablespoon of oil/chicken juices and discard.  Add the sauce to the pot with the chicken and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through (internal temperature reaches 165 degrees) — about 45-60 minutes.  While it cooks, turn the chicken a couple of times and periodically spoon the sauce over the top of the chicken.
  3. Remove the chicken to a cutting board, remove and discard the bones, then shred the chicken using 2 forks.  Return the chicken to the sauce in the pot, mix it all together and cook over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens and begins to carmelize — about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Warm the tortillas for about a minute per side in a dry cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.  Fill the tortillas with the shredded chicken and sauce and garnish with onion, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

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