Student food blog: Chipotle chicken tacos and homemade flour tortillas

Sophie EdmondsHello again and happy first week back at uni!

So it looks like I am back for another year! It is actually a good thing that I am starting this up again. Our diet during O-week was not very exciting so this is actually forcing me to cook something new and exciting.

Our dear flat at number three lost an Alix (may she continue to be her excellent self in Auckland this year) but gained a new Alex. The new Alex tends to avoid processed carbohydrate and loves his protein. Now, for a girl who worked as a pro gelato scooper (and tester) over the holidays, living on steamed broccoli and tins of tuna for all of O-week was not a bad thing. But now flatmate number three, Lucy, has arrived and I'm pretty sure she won't be too keen on dinners comprising steamed vege and eggs.

This was supposed to be a post about wonderful steamed buns with delicious chicken and whatnot. However, I have to admit that it was an epic fail. Luckily that was Sunday night so I still had time to make something far more attractive looking before this post was published. Pretty sure Alex is going to start up a new food blog entitled something along the lines of "Sophie's epic kitchen failures". Not even a trip to the supermarket last night could bring me out of the funk of failure.

But anyway, tonight is the night of success.

So, recently I have been going through a bit of a Mexican phase. Not the cheesy, fatty Tex Mex Mexican but that fresh, lively and coriander-full version. The legit stuff.

It all started when we went out for lunch at this new Mexican place back home. The food was simple but delicious making it perfect to recreate here. I became so obsessed with Mexican cooking that I even had a Mexican-themed early 21st during the break. So. Much. Great. Food.

In order to make this recipe you need to find a can of chipotle sauce or paste. I found a can of La Morena homemade-style chipotle sauce in the international section of New World Centre City. It comes in a bright orange tin. I think it cost us like $3.50 but it should last you about three meals.

You are also going to need some tortillas. These tacos don't use the crunchy taco shells that we are all used to, but trust me when I say these fresh tortilla tacos are superior in every way possible.

Now, you could buy them in the packets but they can be really expensive, especially if you are feeding four, five or six people, and even more so if they all happen to possess a Y chromosome.

Over the summer, when I had an abundance of time, I practised making the tortillas myself by hand. All you need is flour, oil and water and they turn out really well. Plus there is nothing like the taste of a fresh one straight from the pan. You can buy tortilla presses but I just use an old wine bottle or a rolling pin to roll them out. Sure they will be far from circular, but I think that looks cool.

While doing the weekly supermarket shop we couldn't find chicken breast or tenderloin, which is what I usually use to make this meal. There were some fat-looking drums that were only $4 for four so we thought we could just chop the meat off the bones and it would be just fine. Ha ha no . . .
Due to the fact that our knives are terrible (I know a good tradesperson doesn't blame their equipment but our knives may as well be spoons) the chicken had to be cut up into very tiny pieces. So just use your imagination and pretend that there are luscious strips of chicken lining the tortilla not these bitsy little lumps.

Our knives, however, are sharp enough to slice off the tip of my finger . . .

Anyway.

Last year I took all my photos using my iPhone. This year I have managed to enslave Alex to take them all, which is rather convenient. Unfortunately he loves making fun of me and any error that I make. This makes me even more unco-ordinated. Also, his washboard abs distract me. Hence the knife and the index finger incident.

Where were we? Right. All the other ingredients are pretty commonplace in the average flat pantry, though it is definitely worth investing in a bunch of coriander, it makes all the difference.

Let's do this, shall we?

 

Chipotle chicken tacos and homemade flour tortillas

 

For the chipotle marinade:
400g chicken meat
3 Tbsp La Morena homemade-style chipotle sauce
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup cold water 

For the flour tortillas:
1½ cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ cup plus a splash vegetable oil
½ cup boiling water

For the pico de gallo salsa:
2 large tomatoes, diced
½ red onion, diced finely
1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
a good grinding of pepper
juice of one lemon or a couple of limes
a splash of olive oil

Other fillings:

Butter or iceberg lettuce, shredded
Sour cream
Hot sauce

Before you head off to uni in the morning/afternoon, or the night before, marinade your chicken. Slice the breast/tenderloin/drums into long strips. Mix the other marinade ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Add the chicken and leave to soak up the deliciousness for a few hours or overnight.

Pan-fry the chicken pieces in batches, taking care not to have too much of the marinade in the pan with them, which would cause the chicken to stew rather than fry. Cook the chicken at the same time as you make the tortillas, that way everything will be ready at the same time.

To make the tortillas, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. You may need a bit more water and oil to bring it together into a nice smooth ball. Knead for a few minutes then pop it back in the bowl and cover with cling film for 20 minutes to rest it.

Heat up a clean, dry frying pan to the highest temp you can get it. Take golf ball-sized blobs of dough and roll out until they are thin enough to just see the bench colour beneath them. Pan-fry them one at a time until each side starts getting those attractive brown spots. Leave under a clean tea towel while you cook the rest. This should make about 12 tortillas.

To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients and toss to mix in the salt and lemon juice. Serve in a bowl with another sprinkling of coriander.

To construct your taco, place a small amount of the chicken in the centre of your tortilla. Pop a dollop of sour cream on top of the chicken. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the salsa and some shredded lettuce. Sprinkle over some of the leftover La Morena chipotle sauce or some hot sauce if you wish. Fold in half, try not to make a mess (guilty!) and enjoy!

Also, today is my birthday. Just thought you should know :D

See you next week!

Sophie


• Interested in baking? Visit Sophie's blog, http://sophielikescake.blogspot.co.nz