Let’s get one thing straight. No arguments allowed on this one people. Tacos never, ever, ever get old. I think I speak for many with my taco declaration. I could eat one of the meat and veggie stuffed packages of pleasure for breakfast, lunch and dinner if my body so happily approved. My genes are great…but not the taco indulging every 5 hours kind of great. I’m just not that fortunate.
There is truly something so flawless about a corn tortilla with a juicy meaty filling, crunchy cabbage or lettuce, fresh pico de gallo and if a taco consumer is really lucky, the icing on the taco: that creamy Mexican "butter" we all know as “guacamole.” Tacos, when prepared in their proper right, have me feeling a certain bliss that not even an aged, medium-rare, bleu cheese crusted Filet Mignon can top.
For those Tampa residing taco aficionados, there is one joint that, without fail, hands out the ultimate Mexican street-food one can hope for. Tampa’s Taco Bus makes the all-time unsurpassed tacos I’ve encountered to date. With travels to Mexico, California and all over Florida in an unofficial quest for delicious tacos, I’d say I’ve gained certain taco credibility.
Recently, I made the self-assured move to try and imitate Taco Bus’ Pollo Verde tacos...ahem, I mean, green chicken goodies. Deliciously moist and flavorful, my Pollo Verde tacos were a hit. But…as “they” say, “often imitated, never duplicated.” Because I can’t give you the bus' exact recipe (though my recipe is damn good), I will give you a bonus guacamole recipe...and my “guac”….well, my guac ranks supreme.
Pollo Verde Tacos
3-4 chicken breasts, butter-flied, and cut in large chunks.
3 cups chicken stock (or store bought broth)
EVOO or Canola oil, as needed
1 poblano pepper
½ cup red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Cumin, as needed
Chili powder, as needed
Salt, as needed
White pepper, as needed
Corn (or flour) taco size tortillas
1) Place the poblano pepper in an oven safe pan and brush with oil (EVOO or canola). Turn your oven’s broiler on (or have oven preheated to 450 degrees) and closely monitor the pepper, turning it 1-2 times with tongs. When it appears just thoroughly blistered, take from oven and let cool.
2) Season chicken pieces on all sides with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder.
3) In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. Sear chicken on all sides, turn heat to low and add chicken stock. Chicken should be lightly simmering for the next 30 minutes.
4) In a medium-sized pot, bring 5 shucked tomatillos to a boil with 2 cups water, red onion, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper. After boiling for 5 minutes, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes until tomatillos have darkened in color.
5) Remove charred skin from poblano (it should be cool enough to touch by now, but use a fork to hold in place and a knife to remove skin if not). Chop up the poblano, discarding the stem and most of the seeds.
6) Add the entire pot of cooked tomatillos, water, herbs and seasoning to a blender along with the chopped poblano. Add a tablespoon EVOO and juice from ½ a lime and blend until smooth.
7) By this time, the chicken should be cooked through and tender enough to shred. Remove all chicken from the pot and using the 2 fork “shredding” method, shred all of the chicken.
8) Discard half of the broth/juices from the chicken pot and return the shredded chicken along with the blended tomatillo mixture (salsa verde) into the pot. Lightly simmer for another 10 minutes.
9) In a cast iron or stainless steel pan, on high heat, “grill” your corn tortillas for 10 seconds on each side.
10) Using two taco shells per taco, fill your tacos with pollo verde and top with desired veggies, cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole (see below for my recipe).
***Makes 6-10 tacos (depending on how liberally you stuff ‘em).
Leslie’s Ultimate Guacamole
3 Hass avocados
1 small vine-ripened tomato, seeded and chopped (juices discarded too)
½ cup red onion, finely chopped
½ cup cilantro, rinsed and chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced jalapeno (with some seeds if you like it hot)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon EVOO
salt and pepper to season
1) With a sharp, large knife, cut your avocado in half length-wise (using a circular motion)
2) One halved, “grab” the seed by carefully “stabbing” the seed with the middle of the knife’s blade (it should come right out when you pull it away from the avocado).
3) With a spoon, scoop out avocado into a bowl.
4) Mix all other ingredients (onion, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, s&p) and add to the avocado, breaking it up with a spoon. I like mine chunky, so I simply break up the avocado and “fold in” the veggies-no stirring required.