Monday, March 23, 2009

Chili Chicken Tacos

When eating chicken growing up (at least as far as I can remember), I always ended up going for the light meat and leaving the dark behind. I was completely sure I wouldn't like dark meat and that's what I continued eating until I was at least 25. A few years ago when I finally decided I needed to get over my extreme pickiness, I dove in head first and prepared a recipe that used only thighs... and guess what? I couldn't believe how wrong I had been and was sad thinking about the numerous missed opportunities I wasted!

Thankfully, I've enjoyed many different dishes since then and always keep my eye out for recipes that use dark meat and look good, rather than tossing them aside just for the simple fact they didn't call for light meat. That was one of the reasons I choose this recipe for Chili Chicken Tacos to have as our dinner tonight.

We tossed a couple pounds of boneless and skinless chicken thighs into our heavy enameled pot and started layering in the flavor by adding four thinly sliced garlic cloves, chipotle salsa, chopped chipotle chiles and a hefty pinch of chili powder. Once we poured in a couple cups of water, I set the lid on top and stashed the pot away in the oven to cook for a full two hours. Be sure to use a pot that has a tight-fitting lid to trap all that moisture inside.

When the timer rang, I pulled the pot out from the oven and opened it to receive an outrageously fragrant steamed facial - yeah... I'll be sure not to get too close next time! I poked the chicken with a fork to find that it was so completely tender it practically shredded itself just from pulling it out! Since we added that water, you'll have plenty of well-seasoned liquid in the pot to moisten the shredded chicken - I did use quite a bit of it, but the chicken would only hold so much and I didn't want the mixture to be too wet.

I'm sure you could use this juicy mixture in a variety of different ways, but we spooned the meat into warmed white corn taco shells and kept the toppings simple by just adding sharp white cheddar, sour cream and more salsa. If you have cilantro on hand or a couple fresh limes, either of those would be excellent additions! With the amount of chipotles we used, along with the salsa, we found this to have a fairly spicy bite, which was just about right for us. If you want to tame the heat down, use less of the chiles or even just toss in some of the adobo sauce instead so you still achieve that smoky depth.

The original recipe called for cooking this in a slow cooker... but that is one piece of equipment I still don't own! So, if you'd like to skip heating up the oven for this, toss all of the ingredients, minus the 2 cups of water, into your slow cooker, cover and heat on high for four hours or low for six to eight. I guess the liquid from the salsa and the juices from the chicken is enough for the slow cooker, but not for the oven, which is why the method we used called for it.


  1. Dang this looks good! My kids would love this!

  2. You know, I've always avoided dark meat. I'm a little afraid of it, but maybe this is the recipe I need in order to dive into the wonder that is dark meat. These tacos certainly look delicious!

  3. I have to agree with you on the dark meat- why is that? However, this looks like something that I could handle. Thanks for sharing!

  4. This sounds delish.

  5. Bunny - Let us know what they think!

    Elyse - Nothing to be afraid of!

    Katie - Good question! I'm not sure, but it just didn't look good to me when I was younger.

    Jen - and tastes even better!