Saturday, November 13, 2010

Green Chile Chicken Soft Tacos and White Rice Pilaf

Turns out, I have to be careful what I post on here. My husband read my Roasted Tomatillo Salsa post in which I mentioned that I was excited about using it to top some enchiladas, and immediately after reading it, he asked when he could be expecting enchiladas for dinner.

As luck would have it, Rick Bayless has a recipe in his "Mexican Everyday" cookbook that actually incorporates the roasted tomatillo salsa. Whew. But it is not enchiladas. Sorry, honey. I had also wanted to try his recipe for garlicky white rice, so I figured that this was as good a time as any.

Armed with the recipes, I set to work. I got the rice ready to go in the oven, roasted poblano chiles under our broiler (a first for me and not nearly as intimidating or difficult as I thought it would be), chopped a white onion, and prepped my boneless chicken. About 45 minutes from when I started, we were ready to eat.

And eat we did. The lime juice and garlic glazed chicken was juicy and flavorful, although I could have been a bit more heavy-handed with the salt and pepper. I enjoyed the poblano/onion mixture (although my sister could've gone without the poblanos), and it was topped with that smoky tomatillo salsa and some sour cream. It sounds simple, but the combination actually made me enjoy the corn tortilla, which is a feat. 

The rice was very simple to throw together. It had a very mild garlic flavor, but most of the flavor came from the chicken broth and sauteed onions. I accidentally omitted the parsley at the end, which is a bit of a travesty for a number of reasons: it probably would've made it not only look more attractive, but given it that extra freshness the dish was lacking. My sister, Joy, found that adding the roasted tomatillo salsa directly to the rice fixed it and made it taste amazing.

It's not exactly the most colorful dinner, but sometimes you'll have that. I would tell you that we had a salad, or maybe some delicious black beans or refried beans that just didn't get pictured, but that would be a big, fat lie. Because the truth is, we just ate soft tacos and rice like it was our job. And it worked out just fine.

Green Chile Chicken Soft Tacos 
(Tacos de Pollo al Poblano)
Serves 3-4

  • 2 large fresh poblano chiles
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil (divided use)
  • 1 large white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Salt
  • 1 pound (3 medium-large halves) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
  • 12 warm corn tortillas, store-bought or homemade
  • About 3/4 cup roasted tomatillo salsa or guacamole, or bottled salsa or hot sauce, for serving
  1. Roast the poblanos over an open flame or 4 inches below a broiler, turning regularly until blistered and blackened all over, about 5 minutes for an open flame, 10 minutes for the broiler. Place in bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let cool until handleable.
  2. Turn on (or adjust) the oven to its lowest setting. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a very large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden but still crunchy, 4 to 5 minutes. Scoop into a heatproof serving bowl, leaving as much oil as possible in the skillet, and slide into the oven. Set the skillet aside.
  3. Rub the blackened skin off the chiles and pull out the stems and seed pods. Rinse the chiles to remove bits of skin and seeds. Cut into 1/4-inch strips and stir into the onions. Taste and season with salt, usually a generous 1 teaspoon. Return to the oven.
  4. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper.
  5. Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, lay in the chicken breasts. Brown on one side, about 5 minutes, then flip and finish cooking on the other side, about 4 minutes more. When the meat is done, add the lime juice and garlic to the skillet. Turn the chicken in the lime mixture for a minute or so, until the juice has reduced to a glaze and coats the chicken.
  6. Cut the chicken breasts into 1/4-inch strips and toss with the onion-poblano mixture. Taste and season with additional salt if you think necessary. Serve with the warm tortillas and salsa, guacamole or hot sauce for making soft tacos.
A Couple of Riffs on Chicken Tacos: Grilling the chicken breasts is a delicious alternative to pan-searing them, but you’ll miss the lime-garlic glaze. To solve that problem, I suggest you add the lime juice and garlic to the onions when they’re browned, cooking until the liquid has reduced to a glaze. (You may want to have a little extra lime and garlic for marinating the chicken breasts before grilling.) If chicken tenders are more easily available than the breasts, use them; cooking time will be shorter. Beef skirt or flank steak works well here too. And, of course, any of the large fleshy chiles (from Anaheims to red bell peppers) can stand in for the poblanos.
Brining for Even Better Chicken: At Frontera Grill, we use free-range chicken breasts, which might taste tough to some of our guests if we did not brine them. (Besides promoting tenderness, brining can help make ordinary grocery-store chicken breasts moister and more flavorful too.) To brine 4 chicken breasts (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds total), mix together 2 cups water, 3 tablespoons Morton kosher salt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl. Slip in the chicken breasts, cover and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the brine and dry on paper towels; the chicken breasts are ready to use.

Source: Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

Gulf Coast-Style White Rice Pilaf
Serves 6-8
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups white rice (medium-grain)
  • 1 small white onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
  • 1-3/4 cups chicken broth
  • Salt
  • 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Turn on the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the middle. Set a medium (3 quart) ovenproof saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, rice and onion. Stir frequently until the grains of rice turn from translucent to milky-white, about 5 minutes - for the whitest rice, they shouldn't brown. Add the garlic and stir a few seconds, until fragrant, then add the chicken broth and 1 tsp salt (that's what I usually need when using a normally salted broth). Stir a couple of times, then let the mixture come to a full boil.

Cover the pan and set in the middle of the oven. Bake 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

Source: Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

1 comment:

  1. It was an excellent dinner (-the poblanos). I especially enjoyed the rice with the Roasted Tomatillo Salsa. Thank you for dinner!