Our MasterChef quarter-finalist Hannah Gregory just can’t resist a taco and shares her irresistible recipe with us
We’re going back to Mexico, did I mention I LOVE Mexican food?! This recipe is a slight hybrid of a couple of things, a couple of glorious things. . . enchiladas and tacos de canasta (basket tacos).
Tacos de Canasta are a traditional street food that you see everywhere in Mexico. Originating from Mexico City, I even found them as far afield as Guatemala – they must have got lost. They are usually sold from tuk tuks and baskets adorning the front of bicycles.
Similar to a traditional taco, a corn taco base is filled with spicy chicken, then folded and packed into a basket lined with tea towels, tucked in with another tea towel and left to steam. A complete meal, they are perfect for eating on the hoof whilst lugging backpacks onto chicken buses.
This recipe is surprisingly healthy, due to the way the chicken is cooked sans fat and the chillies used, which are full of vitamin C and antioxidants – perfect for our current climate. You can, of course, tart it up with whatever takes your fancy. I champion scoops of avo, tomatillo salsa verde (recipe below), cheese and lashings of sour cream – you may lose the health points at cheese and sour cream.
Do not be put off by the chillies, they mellow out in the cooking process and give an earthy warmth rather than a blow-your-head-off heat.
This guy may not win any beauty contests but we all know it’s what’s on the inside that truly counts.
BAKED CHICKEN TACOS
500g chicken breasts
3 bay leaves
3 black peppercorns
4 garlic cloves
2 dried guajillo chillies
2 dried ancho chillies
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon sugar
12 corn tacos/tortillas (shop bought or homemade)
380g tinned tomatillos, drained
1 jalapeno or serrano chilli
Pinch of caster sugar
Large bunch of coriander
Juice of a lime
Sour cream to garnish
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Finely slice 1 onion and then place it in a saucepan along with the chicken, peppercorns and bay leaves. Cover with water and bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Don’t worry too much about how much water here, as you’ll be taking the chicken out of it later, just make sure the chicken is submerged.
Meanwhile, heat a dry frying pan and toast the dried chillies until aromatic. Pop the toasted chillies in a bowl and submerge in just boiled water.
In the same frying pan toast 3 of the garlic cloves (in their skin) until charred and black all over.
Chop the remaining half onion, jalapeno, a clove of garlic and add to a saucepan then add the tomatillos with 3 tablespoons of water, a pinch of caster sugar and salt.
Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Once the time is up, check the onions are cooked through.
Put the tomatillo mix into a food processor with the coriander (reserving some leaves for garnish) and lime juice. Pulse till pulpy.
Remove the skins from the charred garlic and add the cloves to a blender along with the drained chillies, salt, sugar and 100ml of the soaking water. Blitz till smooth.
Remove the chicken from the cooking liquor and shred with two forks, then toss in the chilli sauce.
Lightly grease an oven dish with some olive oil.
Pop your tacos in some tin foil and put into the oven for 5 minutes to make them slightly more malleable.
To assemble the dish, fill a taco with about a tablespoon of the chicken mixture and fold over to make a semi-circular patty. Lay in the oven dish. Repeat this to create a bottom layer of folded tacos, you want them to slightly overlap so that there are no gaps.
Brush with olive oil and then repeat, building up layers until all used up.
Pour any left over chilli sauce over the tacos.
Pop into the oven for 15 minutes so everything gets toasty warm and soft. (At this stage you could also add on some grated cheese – queso fresca works really well if you can get hold of it.)
Bring out of the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Garnish with the stewed salsa verde, scoops of avo, sour cream and a sprinkling of coriander.
Find out about Hannah’s upcoming Supper Clubs and what she is currently cooking via Instagram: @WanderSups