Food Network Favorites: Shredded Chicken & Tomatillo Tacos with Queso Fresco
A fast dinner idea from the Bobby Flay chapter in Food Network Favorites. The tomatillo sauce is easy to make and tasted great mixed with rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. The proportions were off, however.
The original recipe in the book says to use 1 1/2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken, to serve 4 people. That breaks down to slightly more than 1/3 cup of chicken per serving, which makes 2 very sad, skinny looking tacos. That amount of chicken also swam in the tomatillo sauce, which should coat the chicken nicely, not drown it. I increased the amount of chicken to 3 cups. That amount of chicken works well with the amount of sauce, and gives you 2 nice plump tacos per serving.
If you don't want to make this dish on the grill, it can easily translate to the broiler. Cook the tomatillos on one side until blackened, then turn over and cook the other side. Then proceed with the recipe as directed. The tortillas can be heated under the broiler or in the microwave. If you can't find blue corn tortillas, substitute any other interesting or handmade tortillas you can find (Trader Joe's makes very good handmade flour or corn tortillas that are light-years better than the perfectly round, boring white disks sold at the grocery store). Similarly, if you can't find queso fresco, you can substitute another mild crumbly cheese (mild feta or goat cheese, for example).
A sign that this recipe was written by someone who doesn't have to wash his own dishes: Bobby Flay says to sauté the tomatillo mixture briefly in a small pan, and then when you mix the tomatillo sauce with the chicken, use a large pan. I prefer not to have to wash 2 different pans for such a simple dish, and it's very easy to do both tasks in 1 medium-to-large pan. I've made that clear in the revised instructions, below.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1 serrano chile
1/2 small red onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp honey
About 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (approximately half the meat from 1 chicken)
8 blue corn or other tortillas
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
Preheat the grill to medium heat (or heat the oven broiler to high). Husk the tomatillos and rinse them under warm water to remove their sticky coating. Put the tomatillos and chile on the grill and cook until blackened all over, about 2 to 3 minutes per side (or cook under the broiler until blackened). Remove from the grill and roughly chop (remove the stem from the chile and discard). Put them in a medium-to-large sauté pan with about 1 Tbsp olive oil and briefly sauté on the grates of the grill (or on the stovetop).
Put the tomatillos, chile, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and honey in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the sauté pan and place on the grates of the grill (or on the stovetop on medium heat). Add the chicken and heat through.
Place the tortillas on the grill and briefly heat through (or heat under the broiler or in the microwave). Spoon the chicken mixture into the tortillas and top with queso fresco. Fold in half and serve immediately.