Dude, these chicken tacos totally shred!! Sorry, too nineties of a reference? I’m short on time tonight so I’ll make this a quick one.
This recipe for Shredded Chicken Tacos with Sauce is all about building flavor with simple ingredients. You should know that I generally like to keep my ingredient list fairly simple and use cooking techniques instead of processed foods to bring out big flavor. Here’s the ingredient list for the shredded chicken – chicken breast, onion, garlic, chicken stock, roma tomatoes, serrano chilies, dried arbor chili, cumin seeds, Mexican oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil.
Well seasoned bone-in skin-on chicken breast is first seared skin side down in a cast iron skillet. In the same pan, with the chicken removed, onions, garlic, and spices are simmered with chicken stock. The chicken is placed back in the pan then braised in a 325°F oven until it reaches 155°F. Roma tomatoes and serrano chiles are roasted in the oven at 425° for 30 minutes. Tomatoes, chiles, onions, garlic, and spices are drained then blended until smooth making the sauce. Chicken is shredded with two forks on the same roasting pan the tomatoes and serranos roasted on saving all that deep roasted flavor. Crispy chicken skin is finely chopped and added back in to the chicken. Everything gets mixed together to your taste just before making the tacos.
I don’t know if that comes across sounding complicated or not but it’s pretty simple if you take each step one at a time. I’d say the most important part of the recipe is to cook the chicken just to 155°F – never cook your chicken over 160°F. If you remove the chicken from the oven at that temperature and leave it in the pan for 10 minutes it will come up to finished temp. Once you shred the chicken you can mix in some of the sauce and serve as is. Even better, mix the chicken with the sauce and heat it in the skillet for a few minutes on high heat. This will caramelize the sugars in the sauce and give you some really deep flavor and a little crispiness to the edges of the chicken. I like to leave it sit and cool to room temp so it gets a little dry. I’m weird that way.
If you’ve made shredded chicken before using a slow cooker, try giving this method a shot. It cooks a lot faster but more importantly you get more control of the flavor intensity. I have a pulled pork recipe coming up with the same idea where I’ll speak more about it. Basically, if I’m going to sauce a piece of meat in the end anyway, I rather have more control with how much or how little I add after cooking instead of before. This recipe and the pull pork recipe follow that method.
Shredded Chicken Tacos
- 1 whole bone-in skin-on Chicken Breast
- 2 lbs. Roma Tomatoes
- 3-4 Serrano or Jalapeño Chiles
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion finely chopped
- 1 Tbs minced Garlic
- 1 Tbs cumin seeds toasted and ground
- 10-15 dried arbol chiles toasted and ground
- 1 tsp Mexican Oregano
- 12-16 ounces Chicken Stock
- Olive Oil
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Place tomatoes and serranos on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes turning occasionally with tongs. When soft and slightly charred, allow to cool then transfer to a blender. Lower oven to 325°F.
- Toast Cumin and Arbol Chiles then blitz in spice mill.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat and lightly coat with oil. Liberally season chicken with salt and pepper. Sear skin side down without moving for about 4 minutes until chicken easily separates from the pan. Transfer chicken to a plate until needed again.
- Saute onions and garlic in cast iron pan the chicken seared in. Add oil if needed. When onions are very tender deglaze pan with a couple table spoons of chicken stock. Scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add chicken back to the pan and add enough stock to reach half way up the breast. Transfer skillet to oven and roast chicken until internal temp reaches 155°F.
- Transfer chicken to the sheet pan the tomatoes and chiles roasted on. When cool enough to handle, shred with two forks. Rub chicken in to the pan to scrub up left over flavor from tomatoes.
- Drain and reserve excess liquid from skillet. Transfer onions to blender. Blend with tomatoes and chiles until a smooth sauce forms. Add reserved liquid if needed otherwise discard.
- Comine shredded chicken with as much sauce as you'd like. Serve as is or go to next step.
- Reheat cast iron skillet without cleaning it out. Add a serving or two of shredded chicken with sauce to the pan. Heat over medium to medium high heat without moving. Allow the bottom of the chicken to caramelize for about 10 minutes. Serve hot or at room temp with or without extra sauce.