Grilled chicken tacos

I LOVE this recipe. It came out in the April/May 2004 Fine Cooking magazine, and I have been making it ever since. I have posted the recipe in its original form. I, of course, have tried many modifications from the original over the years; commonly, I will use flour tortillas and incorporate less spicy peppers. The main meat in this recipe is chicken but what makes the dish unique is the bacon; it adds a smoky depth to the dish. The recipe title say’s “tacos” but could easily say “fajitas.” With leftovers (if there are any), I will add the meat mixture to a salad or quessadilla filling.

Ingredients

For the marinated chicken:

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)

1 Tbsp. chili powder

2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the filling:

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil (more if sauteing the chicken)

3 slices bacon, finely chopped

1 cup cored, seeded, and finely chopped fresh pablono chilis (about 2 poblanos) or 2 fresh jalapenos and 1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped yellow or white onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

juice of 1 lie

kosher salt

1/2 cup grate Oaxaca cheese or freshly grated mozzarella (optional)

For serving:

12-16 corn tortillas (5-6 inches wide), warmed

guacamole

pica de gallo

tomatillo salsa

Marinate the chicken: In a medium bowl, mix the lime juice, chile powder, garlic, salt, oregano, and pepper; whisk in the oil.  Add the chicken, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour but no longer than 1 1/2 hours.

Make the filling: Prepare a medium-hot fire on a gas or charcoal grill or set a large, heavy skillet over medium heat for 1 1/2 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off any excess.  Grill the chicken (or sear in in the skillet with 1 Tbsp. oil), flipping after 4 minutes until it’s just firm to the touch and cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Let the chicken cool and then chop it into very small pieces.

Heat a skillet over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp. oil and the bacon, and cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon just begins to brown, about 6 minutes. Turn the heat to medium high, add the chiles and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add the chopped chicken, cilantro, and lime juice and stir constantly until the chicken is hot.  Season with salt to taste.  Sprinkle the cheese (if using) over the top, take the pan off the heat, and let the cheese melt.

To serve: Set the skillet with the filling on a trivet on the table next to the hot tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo, and tomatilla salsa so each person can assemble his or her own tacos.

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