It’s the most magical week day, day of the week. Taco Tuesday. IT’S HERE IT’S TACO TUESDAY! Why do I like Taco Tuesday? The alliteration, the possibility of margs, and the TACOS. What I don’t like about Taco Tuesday? It’s in the middle of the week which makes it a lot more difficult to spend a good amount of time in the kitchen. Tuesday nights I need something quick, tasty, and preferably in taco form.
The trick to keep this dinner is quick, is prepping everything before you start. Seasoning the chicken, cutting up the veggies, etc. I do recommend pickling the red onion at least 1 day in advance in order to really allow all the flavors really take flight. If you don’t, it’s not life-ending. Just make sure this is the VERY first step before you start anything else. You’ll still get a pickled flavor from the red onions, but the won’t be nearly as soft.
Pickled onions are really quite simple. First you’ll want to fetch a jar, or air tight container. Then thinly slice the red onion. I typically cut the red onion into quarters before slicing. One slice from stem to root. The other cut, width-wise. Then with the quarters I start slicing. This creates a nice crescent moon shape. If you have a mandolin you can use this to speed up the process and create more uniform slices. Add the red onions to the jar. On the stove top bring the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns to a boil. Stir until sugar and salt have dissolved. I like to add the red pepper flakes and the cayenne to create some depth and little bit of heat to the pickling process. Then pour over vinegar mixture over red onions. Allow to cool to room temp before putting the lid on. The great part about pickled red onions? They’ll keep for about a month. You can use these for Taco Tuesdays for weeks to come!
Now that you have the red onions pickling, it’s time to move on the chicken and salsa. Preheat oven to 425º. This is quick dry-rub jerk inspired chicken. If it were any other day other than a Tuesday I would do a wet marinade and let the chicken just live in it for the whole day. But it’s Tuesday and it’s dinner time, so I don’t have 6 hours to spare. Combine the cinnamon, dark brown sugar, garlic powder, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, thyme (I grinded the thyme for a more consistent texture) , and cayenne powder.
Thoroughly rub the mixture over the chicken breasts, top bottom, sides. Put chicken breasts on chicken breasts on baking sheet and squeeze fresh lime over top each breast. Set aside.
Roughly cut up tomatillos, yellow onion, and jalapeño pepper. Peel garlic cloves. Add to a baking sheet and lightly toss in olive oil. I would also go ahead and grate the smoked cheddar and set in the fridge until the end.
This is the time saving part. I put the chicken AND the tomatillo mixture into the oven at the same time. Roast the veggies for about 14-15 minutes. The chicken will remain in the oven for roughly another 10-12 minutes for a total of 25-27 minutes.
While the chicken bakes, take the roasted veggie mixture and add to a food processor or blender. Add juice of 1 lime, olive oil, cilantro, salt, and pepper to blender. Cover and pulse until everything is combined, but not completely smooth. You don’t big chunks of anything left behind, but you also don’t want to create a soup. At this point I transferred the verde salsa to a small bowl and put in the fridge to expedite the cooling process. The verde salsa really is no fuss and tasty. The jalapeño adds a little spice and the lime keeps the salsa fresh and crisp.
By this point the chicken should be just about done. You want the chicken to be crispy on the outside but moist on the inside (sorry to anyone out there who hates the word moist..). Remove from baking sheet and transfer to cutting board. Allow chicken to rest for about 5 minutes before cutting.
At this point I heat a skillet (my cast iron, because I’m obsessed with it). Next I toss the tortilla shells on the heated skilled, flipping after about 90 seconds. I don’t add any oil or any other type of liquid to the skillet. The point of this exercise is to a. warm up the shells and b. to char them up slightly. Once they’re all done, I stick them in the warm oven. Note: oven should be off by this point, but still slightly warm.
Next slice the chicken breasts. You can even chop up if you prefer. I like them better sliced, to each their own.
Assemble the tacos, chicken first, roasted verde salsa, pickled red onions, avocado, smoked cheddar, finish with fresh chopped cilantro. There you have it, tasty tacos for Taco Tuesday. I really enjoy the fusion of flavors. The chicken has a great kick to it, the pickled red onions are a little sour and a little sweet. The verde salsa keeps everything fresh and light. Avocado is, well, avocado-y and always tasty. I love smokey flavors which is why I ultimately chose to use smoked cheddar. Taco Tuesday really should be a national holiday. The best part is I didn’t end up using all the chicken. So I whipped up some cilantro-lime rice and packed it for lunch.
Jerk Chicken Tacos with Roasted Verde Salsa
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 red onion
- 1 cup Apple cider Vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 3 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
- 1lb tomatillos
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 limes
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup loose cilantro (plus some for garnish)
- 3 tbsp Allspice
- 2 tbsp Cinnamon
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground thyme
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 6 white corn tortillas
- Shredded smoked white cheddar
- Thinly slice red onion using knife or mandolin. Put onion into a air tight container or jar
- In a sauce pan combined apple cider vinegar, water, salt, sugar, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns
- Bring to a boil and stir until salt and sugar have dissolved
- Pour mixture over onions. Allow mixture to cool before putting lid on. Prepare a day in advance, or before you start anything else
- Preheat oven to 425º
- In a small bowl, add allspice, cinnamon, brown sugar, garlic powder, ginger, nutmeg, ground thyme, cayenne salt, and pepper to taste. Mix
- Rub spice mixture on all sides of chicken breasts. Put on baking sheet. Squeeze 1/2 juice from lime on to chicken breasts. Set aside
- Roughly cut up tomatillos, yellow onion, jalapeño pepper. Peel garlic cloves. Add to baking dish and lightly coat in olive oil
- Put vegetable mixture and chicken breasts into the oven at the same time
- Roast vegetable mixture for about 14-15 minutes, remove
- Continue to bake chicken for an additional 10-12 minutes. 25-27 minutes total
- Add roasted veggies, juice of 1 lime, olive oil, salt and pepper to blender or food processor. Pulse until everything is well combined, but not completely a liquid. Put in fridge to quickly cool
- Remove chicken breasts from oven and transfer to cutting board. Allow to chicken to rest for 5 minutes
- Heat skillet with no liquids or oils. Heat tortillas in skillet 90 seconds per side
- Put tortillas in oven to keep warm while you slice the chicken
- You can slice or chop up the chicken in accordance to your preferences.
- Assemble the tacos, shell first, then chicken, verde salsa, pickled red onion, avocado, shredded smoked cheddar, garnish with chopped cilantro