Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Chicken Tacos with fresh pico de gallo and Radish Cucumber Salad

These chicken tacos are so light and fresh.  It makes a perfect summer dinner.  The chicken can be made a day before and the salad is super easy.  This whole dinner is a cinch to make and mouth- wateringly good.  This is an excellent meal to add to your dinner line up!

Mason really loves this dinner!

La Recette:
*I like to make the tacos in stages.  The first being the chicken and the sauce.  Preferably, I  make the chicken and sauce the night before.  Also, the pico de gallo can be made up to two days ahead.  The red sauce can be made up to one week ahead.  The rest of the dinner takes about 25 minutes tops...

Chicken and red sauce-
8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
1- 28 oz. can peeled whole tomatoes (I love San Marzano)
1 cup grated carrots (on a box grader)
1/2 cup grated onions (on a box grater)
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

-Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
-Take the chicken out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you put it into the oven.  Rinse each thigh and trim any excess fat.  Pat dry, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle each side with salt and pepper to taste.  Place each thigh into a large baking dish making sure that it isn't too crowded.  If it's too tight, use two dishes.
-Grate the carrots and onions on a box grater.  Finely chop the garlic and combine all three ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.  Sauté for 8-10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and quickly use your hands to squeeze all the tomatoes apart and use a spoon to break them down further.  Definitely wear an apron when working with the tomatoes ;) Scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add the salt, pepper, vinegar and sugar.  Simmer for one hour.  Stirring occasionally.  Let the sauce cool for 15 minutes then put it into a food processor or blender until smooth.  While the food processor is running, add the quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil.  Blend until smooth.
-Take 3 cups of the tomato sauce and dump over the chicken in the baking dish.  Make sure the thighs are covered well (not completely covered but each piece should be surrounded with sauce).  
-Bake for about 25 -30 minutes at 400 degrees.   At 25 minutes, I always take one piece to check that the chicken is done.
-Once the chicken is done, remove from the oven and let it cool.  Place the chicken in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator overnight.

8 corn tortillas - I like Heath is Wealth ( it a great size tortilla - not too big or too small)
2 cups pitted Kalamata olives - halved
2 cups crumbled goat cheese
2 avocados - sliced
Drizzle of creme fraiche or sour cream
Pico de Gallo-
4 medium sized tomatoes (I like to cut the sides of the tomatoes off cutting around the seeds.  This way you can avoid having a pico de gallo that is too watery.)
3/4 cup red onion
1/4 cup Italian Parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

-Combine all the ingredients and mix well.  Use immediately or refrigerate.  Note that the flavors come together really well if the pico de gallo has a few hours to marinate.      
*You can assemble the tacos any way you like.  I like the chicken cold but you can re-heat at 300 degrees for 15 minutes if you like the chicken warm.  I roughly chop the chicken and then spoon on the pico de gallo, olives and goat cheese - finishing with the sour cream and avocado.

4 cups of romaine - chopped
1 English cucumber - cut in half vertically, seeds scraped, and 1/2 inch slices cut horizontally.
8 radishes - cut very thin, preferably on a mandolin http://www.surlatable.com/search/searchContainer.jsp;jsessionid=ABE4A38E5031D3693A6D7BBEA88205F4.slt-app-02-p-app2?q=mandolin&s=true
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon of shallots - minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of freshly found black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup

-Combine all of the dressing ingredients and whisk vigorously until smooth .  Enjoy!
-Makes 8 tacos,  4 adult servings

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