Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shredded chicken tacos (p. 189) with Chile-garlic spice paste (p. 589)

I usually have no particular reason why I pick one recipe over another on a given night. I usually have a list of TJOC recipes for which I have the ingredients on hand but beyond that, it's pretty random.

On this particular day, I had a pile of chicken thighs I needed to use before they went bad (I always imagine the chicken wearing a little leather jacket and smoking a cigarette--it "went bad") and I had eyed Shredded chicken tacos (p. 189) many times. I like garlic, so any recipe with garlic in the title is probably going to be a winner in my book.

This recipe is a throwback to the TJOC editions of old. Old TJOCs tended to read like a "Choose-your-own adventure" novel. You would start a recipe, have to leaf through the book for the sauce, turn to another page for the meat, leaf through for another technique. It could get annoying, especially for complex recipes. It's particularly annoying when you think a recipe is short because it doesn't take many lines and then realize that it refers to four other recipes, making it a much more complex procedure. Recent TJOC editions have really cut down on the referrals to other recipes but they still show up occasionally. This recipe is one of those. The recipe requires Chile-garlic spice paste (p. 589).

I mixed jalapeno peppers (I used jarred, I didn't feel like dealing with fresh), garlic (a TON of garlic), olive oil, lemon zest, black peppercorns, salt, and chili powder in my tiny food processor:


I tasted it--a great mix of jalapeno and garlic. Because jalapeno peppers are not that hot (in relation to other peppers), it wasn't overwhelming, but the paste did have a nice heat.

I smeared (yes, that is the technical term) all over the chicken:

It was at this point of the recipe that I realized that the tacos only call for a half-cup of the spice paste and I used a whole recipe of it. I used TWO CUPS of spice paste when I was only supposed to use a half-cup. I was pretty sure I ruined the chicken--I mean, I quadrupled it. It was going to be way too spicy, right? They smelled extremely spicy (and yes, I think you can smell spicy). I added an extra chicken thigh just in case, thinking it could cut the heat if needed.

I shredded the chicken, added a little sour cream, and rolled it all up in a corn tortilla. They were delicious! Definately spicy but not too spicy. In fact, I think that if I had used the amount called for they would have been slightly bland. The jalapeno and garlic really complemented each other and the sour cream cut the heat. The chicken got even tastier after sitting in the fridge overnight--the flavors melded deliciously. I think this would be the perfect chicken taco dish to add to a "Tex-Mex Fiesta" or something--a chicken taco for people who don't think they like chicken tacos.

The biggest win of the night? I managed not to touch my eyes, nose, or mouth after working with the peppers!

Have you made a huge error in a recipe and had it work out for the best?

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