It was a New-York-Times-State-of-Mind Dinner Club last week.
First, M. served to-die-for Chicken Tacos with Chiptole.
Then A. presented the most beautiful Pistachio Poundcake With Macerated Strawberries.
And I wonder why those pesky 3-5 LBS just linger.
Chicken thighs are used in the taco recipe and are simmered, cooled, shredded then added to a mixture of sautéd chipotles, garlic and adobo sauce. The result is the most succulent, perfectly spiced and balanced chicken that has ever graced a taco. Mix in the suggested toppings and, let me tell you, this is not your average taco. It makes me sad to think that the taco experience of most people is limited to chain-restaurant fare, except perhaps for those who live in California, where there are the best little stands sprinkled along the highways.
Miners in Mexico used to snack on tacos and soon stands, referred to as taquerías, sprung up in Mexico City selling the little envelopes of deliciousness. Since then, tacos have become wildly popular in the United States and are frequently featured in NYTimes cooking and other popular cooking sites and shows.
Then there was the pistachio poundcake. With macerated strawberries. And whipped cream.
I cannot resist anything with pistachios and I bet you can’t either so here's the link to the poundcake recipe.
As I read through the taco recipe, one reader said (I like reading the comments section because that’s where you see reader short cuts and ingredient workarounds)…”25 ingredients! Are you kidding me for a weeknight dinner?” And, to be fair, there are a lot of ingredients in the taco recipe but don’t be deterred….so worth it! As you are reading you may ask…what exactly is an allspice berry. Well, it’s just the whole version of ground allspice, like pepper. About five allspice berries equals about one teaspoon of ground allspice, so about 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice will do the trick if you don’t have whole on hand!
Chicken Tacos with Chipotle
4 large bone-in chicken thighs, about 1 1/2 pounds
3 scallions, left whole
1 bay leaf
1 thyme branch
3 black peppercorns
1 allspice berry
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 or 3 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
3 tablespoons adobo sauce, from the can
½ cup broth (use broth from simmered chicken)
8 fresh corn tortillas
1 small white onion, finely chopped, soaked in ice water for 10 minutes and drained
Thinly sliced serrano chile
Thinly sliced radishes
Crumbled queso fresco or mild feta cheese
Crème fraîche or Mexican crema
Put chicken thighs in a saucepan and cover with 3 cups water. Add scallions, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, allspice, cloves and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Simmer for 30 minutes, then remove chicken and cool. Shred chicken with your fingers, discarding chicken skin and bone. Strain broth and reserve. You should have about 2 cups shredded chicken.
Put olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced yellow onion, season with salt and cook until softened and a bit browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cumin and cook for 1 minute more. Add chopped chipotle chile and adobo sauce and stir to combine. Add shredded chicken, salt lightly and stir to coat. Add chicken broth and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, until sauce has thickened somewhat. Keep warm.
Heat the tortillas over steam or by your favorite method, keeping them soft and pliable. Build the tacos quickly: Put a spoonful of the saucy chicken in the center of each tortilla. Top with a teaspoon of chopped white onion, a few slivers of serrano chile, some radish and avocado slices, a teaspoon of queso fresco and a teaspoon of crème fraîche. Add a few cilantro springs and a small pinch of oregano. Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.
Then we had the poundcake. Good grief, was that ever good!