Kitchen Culture: Chipotle-Cider Street Tacos

Taco Tuesday isn’t a national holiday just yet, but until that glorious day inevitably comes (a guy can dream, can’t he?) you can let these Chipotle-Cider Street Tacos tide you over. While Mexican food can vary in difficulty, this delicious but fool-proof-simple recipe will have your friends at your next taco gathering wondering if you hired an authentic Mexican chef to prepare their meal, to which you will play coy and say, “Maybe…”

For the cider component of the recipe, Julian Hard Cider’s Harvest Apple complemented the other ingredients quite well. The smoky heat of the chipotle pepper and other spices will tango on your tongue in harmony with the cider’s acidity, tartness and sweetness after simmering. And once you get this mixture on the tortilla, the spice and tanginess of the sauce with the cooling creaminess of the cojita cheese and avocado, and the refreshing notes of the lime and cilantro is nothing short of a match made in heaven.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes
Yields: about 4 cups of sauce, about 12-15 mini tacos with 2 lbs of chicken

Ingredients:
1 poblano pepper
1 shallot, peeled
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for basting
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
7-ounce can of chipotle with adobo sauce
12-ounce can of tomato paste
3 cups Julian Hard Cider Harvest Apple cider
2 pounds chicken, cooked and shredded
12 small corn or flour tortillas (even better when they’re homemade!)
1 bunch cilantro (for topping)
Cojita cheese, grated (for topping)
Avocado, sliced (for topping)
Lime juice (for topping)

Directions:
Rub poblano pepper, peeled shallot and peeled garlic with olive oil and place on foil-lined baking sheet. Roast under broiler until blistered and browned in places, and turning once to roast evenly, about 5 minutes.

Let vegetables cool, chop and add them to a large sauce pan with olive oil. Saute on a medium-high heat until shallots are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in cumin, Mexican oregano, salt and pepper. Add tomato paste, chipotles and adobo sauce to taste—the adobo generates most of the heat, so add more or less depending on personal preference. All of the adobo adds a fair amount of spice but isn’t unbearable. Slowly add cider to the mix (heat + bubbles = sauce on the stove).

Once combined, bring pot to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for at least 10-15 minutes.

Once the sauce has cooled, pour into a blender or food processor and blend until it becomes a smooth puree with a little bit of texture. You should end up with about 4 cups of sauce.

In a large pot, add chicken and enough of the Chipotle-Cider sauce so that the chicken is well coated and some of the sauce pools at the bottom, about 1 cup of sauce per 1 pound of chicken. Let chicken and sauce simmer for 20-30 minutes. Reserve remaining sauce for either topping the finished product, freezing it and making the recipe another time or topping scrambled eggs!

Top mini tortillas with chicken, cojita cheese, cilantro leaves, avocado slices and squeeze a bit of fresh lime over it all. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Rachel Brown

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