Mexican food is one of my “favoritest” things in the world. I love everything about it, the spices, the sauces, the meats and cheeses. Our family has some version of Mexican once or twice a week. I love to make shredded chicken, and keep it on hand for the week. If I can’t decide what it is I want, I have it for when I do. Sometimes it is tacos, sometimes it is for enchiladas or empanadas, you get the picture.
I have found that the secret to Mexican food tasting authentic is to use components that flavor this to perfection, once you have the flavors, you can’t go wrong. Now, I have told you many times that I love spicy food, and some people are turned off by Mexican food because they feel they can’t handle the spices or that it is super fattening. While I will admit that can be true, when you make dishes at home, you are the master of your kitchen and you can be boss with what goes! For instance in this dish, I scale back using chilies in adobe, they are hot, and you can only handle two in a dish, not a whole can, at least I can’t and I love spicy food. You don’t have to waste the can, I put extra in a Ziploc freezer bag, and use when I need it. They freeze beautifully. Also, for healthier cooking, I will use avocado oil, or canola oil, in place of lard, sometimes I won’t compromise and I use vegetable shortening. Also, I use half of the rice most dishes use and load up on veggies, or I use brown rice. You can play with dishes, there are no stead fast rules in cooking, baking yes, because science is key in making proper baked goods rise, bake, with the use of leavening agents, and gluten based products. So this is the only time precision is key! Cooking however is your time to create and enjoy food. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your way is wrong. Yes there are techniques for ensuring flawless cooking such as making a roux, but if you are playing with spices, herbs, introducing vegetables to a dish that traditionally uses one thing over another, take liberties here to make the dish yours.
Some chefs feel that if you deviate from tradition you are disrespecting the process, to which I say they need to get over themselves, and I call bullshit. There is nothing wrong with playing with recipes, mine included. I will say this, I make the same things different most times. Not every dish, but many. Sometimes I hit the mark with the addition of a new thing, many times, because I don’t write recipes down, until my blog, and because I don’t measure I forget what the hell I used, or the quantity, but its instinctive to me now and I have a general idea. As I said it is your kitchen, your preference, and an expression of you, make it beautiful, and make it your own.
I hope you give this a try, feel free to play around with this, and do what you need to. I hope you give this a try. It truly is the perfect backdrop for many a creative Mexican masterpiece.
Mexican Shredded Chicken
My take on a Mexican Classic, that's super easy, full of flavor, and so satisfying!
- 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts whole
- 2 chilies in adobo (which are smoked jalapenos, in a sauce)
- 1/2 large onion diced
- 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
- 1 can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 tsp. of coco powder (unsweetened)
- 1 1/2 tsp. of brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. of chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. of cumin
- 1 tsp. of Mexican oregano or regular
- 1/4 cup of orange juice
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp. of Avocado oil or canola oil
- Season chicken with salt and cracked black pepper. In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, sear chicken in oil, about 4 or 5 minutes per side.
- After both sides are seared, add onions, garlic, spices, orange juice, crushed tomatoes, and coco powder. Stir well to incorporate. Put lid on and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally,
- When chicken is done, remove from pot, begin to shred chicken. Place back in sauce for about 5 more minutes, then remove from heat. Let warm slightly to use immediately. Or cool and store in covered container for later use. Keeps for up to four days. Toss leftovers after that!