Hold on to your pants people, Taco Tuesdays are about to become even more kick-ass than they already are because succulent, flavour-bursting pieces of achiote chicken, snuggled in warm tortillas along with Esquites (crispy corn salad) and an avocado infused Queso, are about to rock you world!
This recipe has everything. First of all, it’s Tacos. Do I need to say more? Should I just leave you to look at the pretty pictures, print the recipe and be done with it?
No, I won’t just leave you, for two reasons:
- I would be failing at the “food blogger life” – I mean, that is my simple and only job, to talk to you – hello you! – about the recipe you see in the pictures about you. If I don’t do that, I fail. Simple, yet true.
- I am so excited about this recipe, and that excitement is all bottled up and if I don’t get it out and onto this post I think I may just explode (I’ve also had one too many coffees this morning which is not helping the situation!)
So I’m going to explain this recipe to you one delicious step at a time and, by the end, I’m sure you’ll be drooling and planning on making it next Taco Tuesday.
By the way, Taco Tuesday doesn’t have to be on Tuesday – it can be any day of the week you want (it took me a while to learn this valuble life lesson!)
Let me start with the main ingredient of this kick-ass taco recipe, the star, if you will: the achiote chicken.
You may remember the other week I discovered annatto seeds; those pungent, smoky, peppery seeds that multi task as a natural food colouring AND an awesome addition to spice pastes?
Well, I also happened to “discover” achiote paste (recado rojo), the delicious spice paste/ blend from Southern Mexico and I told you, when I posted that recipe, that I would have a recipe for you to use it on.
Well here it is…
Achiote chicken. Woo Hoo!
Nothing hard or complex about this recipe and yet you will be left – nay, gifted! – with chicken that is packing the flavours of annatto seeds, oregano, cumin, lime, garlic and all other kick-ass Mexican themed flavour things.
Quite simply: Best. Taco. Meat. Filling. EVER! (I told you, I’ve had far too much coffee this morning!)
Fried corn salad for the win!
I couldn’t have a Mexican themed recipe without corn, right? And corn that is fried until slightly crispy, along with garlic and jalapenos, and then tossed with cilantro, lime and sprinkled with cojita cheese is like the perfect corn-themed taco accompaniment.
I didn’t have Cotija cheese because it’s not something that is readily available here in Australia (or not that I have managed to find, anyway) and used feta instead. Result: corn and cheese perfection. Sure I would like to have tried it with cotija, but I think the moral of this story is that any cheese you have on hand will do just fine.
Because it’s cheese!
Talking of cheese, aside from the tortillas and meat, I feel like there are two obligatory ingredients/ sides to make Tacos truly awesome:
- Avocado: usually in a guacamole-like state;
When I was making this recipe, and testing it a few times, I never felt like making guacamole – it felt too cliché a partner to something as awesome as achiote chicken. Plus, there are one thousand and one different guacamole recipes out there and I felt that I needed something a bit different , I needed to stand out a little.
And simple, grated cheese would, obviously not cut it either.
But Queso would absolutely cut it: thick gooey cheesiness will always cut it.
And a Queso + Guacamole like concoction that is the Avo-Queso was born.
The it’s a simple case of assembly…
And you have yourself some kick-ass, achiote chicken taco awesomeness happening!
Until next time foodies,
Achiote Chicken Tacos with Esquites & Avo-Queso
Make your next Taco Tuesday legendary with these achiote chicken tacos, complete with fried corn Esquites and an avocado-infused Queso cheese sauce!
- 10 to 12 medium sized tortillas
- 1 cup roughly torn cilantro leaves
For the Achiote Chicken:
- 1kg chicken (I used breast fillets, but thigh fillets work just fine, too), cut into bite-sized strips
- ½ cup achiote spice paste
For the Esquites:
- 450g corn kernels
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2tbsp finely diced jalapeños
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- zest and juice of one lime
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- generous pinch of salt
- 1 ½ tbsp mayonnaise
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
- 50g cotija cheese, crumbled (feta works as a substitute)
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
For the Avo-Queso:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 50g shallots, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp finely diced jalapeno
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 120g avocado, mashed
- 300g grated cheese (I used a mix of cheddar & Monterey Jack)
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- pinch of salt, to taste
For the Achiote Chicken:
- In a large bowl, combine the chicken pieces with the achiote paste until thoroughly combined. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour (although a few hours is highly recommended). For best results, the chicken should be removed from the fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking, to allow even cooking.
- Cook the chicken just before serving, using any method you prefer: fry in a skillet, place on the grill/BBQ, or bake in an oven at 200°C/ 339°F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cooked through.
For the Esquites:
- In a large pan or skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook for a minute, or until fragrant. Add the corn kernels. Stirring constantly, cook the corn for 10 or so minutes or until they begin to crisp.
- Transfer to a large bowl and stir through the lime zest and juice, pepper, salt, mayonnaise, and cilantro leaves. Can be served immediately, at room temperature, or cold.
- Just before serving, sprinkle over cotija cheese, paprika and cayenne pepper.
For the Avo-Queso:
- Heat the oil in the large pan and sauté the shallots until soft, around 5 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook for a further 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add one cup of milk and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining milk and cornstarch. Add this to the pan and whisk until combined and the sauce thickens. Whisk in the mashed avocado until well combined.
- Slowly stir in the cheese, a handful at a time, waiting until it has melted and combined until adding more. Once all the cheese has been added, stir though the salt and pepper.
- Warm the tortillas using your preferred method and assemble with the Achiote Chicken, Esquites and Avo-Queso, adding additional cilantro leaves, as desired.