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Chipotle Chicken Taco Filling With Raisins

  • 1/9
    Chipotle Chicken Taco Filling With Raisins
  • 2/9
    Ready to blend: tomatoes, garlic, chipotle peppers, cinnamon, ground cloves and salt
  • 3/9
    Good and convenient: La Costeña diced chipotle peppers
  • 4/9
    Heat the oil or ghee over high heat in a large skillet. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.
  • 5/9
    Leave the chicken fat and juices in the skillet, add the onion, and sauté, stirring frequently over medium heat, until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.
  • 6/9
    Add the tomato sauce, drained raisins, chicken stock, and black pepper to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.
  • 7/9
    Add the chicken back to the skillet, cover with a lid, and simmer over low-medium heat, until tender, about 45 minutes.
  • 8/9
    Turn the heat off and carefully remove the chicken to a plate.
  • 9/9
    When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones, shred the meat into long strips, and return to the skillet.

Text, photos and food cooked by Michal Martinek

Feb 2, 2016

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Chipotle Chicken Taco Filling With Raisins

I enjoy having taco dinner parties at my house. Most of my friends love Mexican food and the do-it-yourself part of assembling and customizing their own tortillas. Plus, all the cooking can be done, stress-free, the day before—actually, it should be done that way so the taco fillings have time to develop their flavor—so overall, it’s a win-win situation.

Last weekend was my friend Heather’s birthday, so I decided to throw an intimate fiesta for eight people. She requested carnitas, which I’d made a few times before from a superb recipe given to me by George Koop, a very good cook. To offer another taco option and balance out the citrus-cumin flavor of the pork, I made a smoky, sweet and spicy chipotle chicken filling with raisins—adapted and somewhat simplified from a recipe by cookbook writer David Rosengarten. It was a big hit, and though there was plenty of carnitas left at the end, the chicken had all been eaten.

In David’s version, he broils the tomatoes and dry-toasts the garlic cloves. He uses dried chipotle chiles, toasting them and then soaking them in water; whereas, I went with ready-made, diced chipotle peppers in a sauce, and threw them with everything else in a blender. Normally, I’m all for using whole foods and cooking from scratch, but like ketchup, the commercial version is superior. Both versions are great, but I wanted to speed things up a little, and the end result is still delicious and pretty addictive.

If you hate raisins like I do, don’t worry. They somehow disappear into the background in this recipe—not visually, but texture-wise—and add a welcome sweetness. You may use just chicken thighs or just drumsticks, or a combination of both, but it’s a good idea to buy skin-on/bone-in because the flavor is better. 

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  1. Serves 6–8
  2. ½ cup raisins
  3. 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  4. 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  5. ¼ cup La Costeña diced chipotle peppers
  6. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  7. ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
  10. 2 pounds skin-on/bone-in chicken thighs and/or drumsticks (about 6–7 pieces total)
  11. ½ cup yellow onion, peeled, diced
  12. 1 cup chicken stock
  13. ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1

Place the raisins in a small bowl, cover with boiling water, and let soak for 20 minutes.

2

Drain the tomatoes and discard the liquid. Combine the tomatoes, garlic cloves, chipotle peppers, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a blender, and blend until smooth. Add water by the tablespoon if the sauce is too thick.

3

Heat the oil or ghee over high heat in a large skillet. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

4

Leave the chicken fat and juices in the skillet, add the onion, and sauté, stirring frequently over medium heat, until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.

5

Add the tomato sauce, drained raisins, chicken stock, and black pepper to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.

6

Add the chicken back to the skillet, cover with a lid, and simmer over low-medium heat, until tender, about 45 minutes. Flip the chicken halfway through.

7

Turn the heat off and carefully remove the chicken to a plate. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones, shred the meat into long strips, and return to the skillet. Simmer until heated through and the chicken is coated with the sauce, about 5 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

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